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BMJ Open



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Introduction: Reduced neuromuscular control due to altered neurophysiological functions of the central nervous system has been suggested to cause movement deficits in individuals with patellofemoral pain (PFP). However, the underlying neurophysiological measures of brain and spinal cord in this population remain to be poorly understood. The purpose of this systematic review is to evaluate the evidence for altered cortical and spinal cord functions in individuals with PFP.

Methods and analysis: The protocol for conducting the review was prepared using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Protocols guidelines. We will systematically search the literature that examines cortical and spinal cord functions in individuals with PFP, aged 18–45 years. The studies for cross-sectional, prospective, longitudinal, case–control and randomised control trial designs will be included from the following databases: PubMed (MEDLINE), EMBASE and Web of Science. Only studies published in English prior to 1 February 2021 will be included. The risk of bias and quality assessment will be performed using National Institutes of Health’s Quality Assessment Tool for Observational Cohort and Cross-Sectional Studies. We will conduct meta-analysis of the data where appropriate. Narrative synthesis will be taken if a meta-analysis is not possible.

Ethics and dissemination: This is a systematic review from the existing literature and does not require ethical approval. The results of this study will be published in a peer-reviewed journal in the field of rehabilitation medicine, sports/orthopaedic medicine or neurology, regardless of the outcome.


Physical Therapy

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