Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering - (M.S.)

Department

Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Hans Raj Chaudhry

Second Advisor

Thomas W. Findley

Third Advisor

Richard A. Foulds

Fourth Advisor

Max Roman

Abstract

Approximately, 31 million adults in the United States suffer from low back pain (LBP). Altered connective tissue structure has been identified in adults with chronic LBP. Numerous novel treatments are being developed targeting the connective tissue and nervous system to relieve people from LBP. One such self-care treatment is the MELT method. The objective of this study was to determine whether thickness of thoracolumbar connective tissue and other biomechanical and viscoelastic properties of myofascial tissue in the low back region change in subjects with chronic LBP as a result of MELT.

Using ultrasound imaging and an algorithm developed in MATLAB, thickness of thoracolumbar connective tissue was analyzed. A hand-held digital palpation device, called the MyotonPRO, was used to assess biomechanical properties such as stiffness, elasticity, tone and mechanical stress relaxation time of the thoracolumbar myofascial tissue. A forward bending test assessing flexibility and pain scale was added to see if MELT affected subjects with chronic LBP.

A significant decrease in connective tissue thickness and a significant increase in mechanical stress relaxation time in a particular area of the low back was observed in treatment group participants. Significant increase in flexibility and significant decrease in pain was also recorded.

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