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Abstract

Purpose: Kinesiotape is an elastic, adhesive tape applied to the skin that has been used extensively to reduce pain associated with various musculoskeletal conditions. Its use in the setting of fractured ribs is less clear. The aim of this preliminary study was to investigate the effect of kinesiotaping for patients with rib fracture(s) on pain levels, pulmonary function, and mobility. Method: We prospectively evaluated five patients admitted with fractured ribs using a single-subject experimental ABAB design. Each phase lasted 24 hours with kinesiotape applied during B phases. All participants received usual medical, nursing, and allied health care. Outcome measures included pain levels (participant-rated), pulmonary function, and maximum mobility. The occurrence of skin irritation was tracked. Results: Considerable variability was seen between- and within-participants for pain levels. There was some evidence, albeit inconsistent, that pain levels were lower when the kinesiotape was in situ compared to when it was not. Pulmonary function and mobility levels showed no consistent pattern between intervention phases. Skin irritation occurred in one participant and another required escalation of medical therapy for pneumonia. Conclusions: Kinesiotaping may reduce pain for patients with fractured ribs but further research, preferably randomized controlled trials with homogenous samples and standardized medication regimens, is required to confirm its effectiveness in the acute care setting.

Author Bio(s)

Simone Dafoe, B App Sc (Physio), is the Principal Physiotherapist, Acute Care and Surgery, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, South Australia.

Leigh Rushworth, B App Sc (Physio), is the Principal Physiotherapist, Acute Care and Surgery, Royal Adelaide Hospital and The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide, South Australia.

Kathy Stiller, B App Sc (Physio), PhD, is the Allied Health Research Coordinator, Central Adelaide Local Health Network, Adelaide, South Australia.

Acknowledgements

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT The authors would like to thank the patients who participated and the co-operation of the Royal Adelaide Hospital Trauma Service staff.

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