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n International SportMed Journal - Evaluation of nerve conduction velocities of the median, ulnar and radial nerves of basketball players : original research article
Background : Many sports are associated with a variety of peripheral nervous system injuries that are specific to that particular sport.
Research question : The purpose of this study was to evaluate the influence of playing basketball on nerves in the elbow region.
Type of study : This is a comparative study that focuses on nerve conduction velocity differences between basketball players and sedentary persons.
Methods : The study included 20 male basketball players with a mean (and SD) age, height and weight of 22.5 (3.0) years, 190.3 (5.7) cm and 91.6 (12.4) kg, respectively. The age, height and weight of 20 male non-active controls were 22.3 (1.7) years, 172.6 (6.2) cm and 75.7 (8.4) kg, respectively. Limb length and the perimeters of the dominant arm and forearm were measured for each subject. The neurophysiological study consisted of measuring motor and sensory nerve conduction of the median, ulnar and radial nerves. Both the motor and sensory conduction velocities of the median nerve were significantly delayed in the dominant arm of the basketball players compared to controls. In addition, the sensory conduction velocities of both the ulnar and radial nerves were significantly delayed in the dominant arm of the basketball players compared to controls.
Results : There were no statistical differences between the dominant and non-dominant arms of the basketball players for the sensory and motor conduction velocities of the median, ulnar and radial nerves. The basketball players were taller and heavier than controls; in addition, their dominant upper limb length was longer, and their arm and forearm perimeters were greater than controls.
Conclusions : This study shows that basketball players have a tendency toward developing median (motor and sensory), ulnar (sensory) and radial (sensory) nerve damage in the elbow region, despite being asymptomatic. The mechanism of delayed motor and sensory conduction velocities in the median nerve may involve both traction and compression induced by the median nerve stretching across the upper extremity during movement. Entrapment of the ulnar nerve due to a hypertrophic medial head of the triceps or flexor carpi ulnaris may be the cause of the delayed conduction velocities in this study. Forceful repetitive movements and an overload of the triceps muscle are thought to be primary etiological factors in the delayed radial nerve sensory conduction velocity.
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