Background: Ultrasound (US) imaging has been considered as a non-invasive technique to measure thickness and estimate relative abdominal muscle activity. Although some studies have assessed the reliability of US imaging, no study has assessed the reliability of US measurement of automatic activity of abdominal muscles in positions with different levels of stability in participants with chronic low back pain (cLBP). The purpose of this study was to investigate within-day and between-days reliability of US thickness measurements of automatic activity of the abdominal muscles in asymptomatic participants and within-day reliability in those with LBP.
Methods: A total of 20 participants (10 with LBP, 10 healthy) participated in the study. The reliability of US thickness measurements at supine lying and sitting positions (sitting on a chair, sitting on a gym ball with both feet on the ground or lifting one foot off the floor) were assessed. We evaluated within-day reliability in all participantsand between-days reliability in asymptomatic participants.
Results: We found high ICC scores (0.85-0.95) and also small SEM and MDC scores in both groups. The reliability of the measurements was comparable between participants with and without LBP in each position but the SEMs and MDCs was slightly higher in patient group compared with healthy group. It indicates high intra-tester reliability for the US measurement of the thickness of abdominal muscles in all positions.
Conclusion: US imaging can be used as a reliable method for assessment of automatic activity of abdominal muscles in positions with low levels of stability in participants with and without LBP.
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