The Effect of Dynamic Balance Performance on Lower Extremity Injury in Division III Football Players
Keywords:Injury Risk Reduction, injury surveillance, prevention
Identifying and implementing evidence based prevention programs present a significant challenge for athletic trainers. Despite encouraging results in research, individual interventions are often specific to a setting or population and dependent on identifying accurate injury risk factors. This practice-based research is an attempt to apply current evidence in prevention to a population of division three football athletes. The clinical staff reviewed national and site-specific injury data and identified lower extremity (LE) injury as the area of focus. Evidence was searched to identify modifiable risk factors and valid measurement tools that could be addressed in our setting. Dynamic balance has been well documented as a risk factor for LE injury and the Y balance test (YBT) has been shown to be an accurate measure of balance and increased risk of injury. The purpose of our investigation was to determine if our population exhibited similar injury rates in those with balance deficits as documented in other settings. We chose the football program within our setting due to the high number of athletes and consistent injuries that occur throughout the season. All returning football athletes were measured for dynamic balance using the YBT during the annual screening process. Injury record keeping through electronic medical record (EMR) system was consistent with current procedures and non-contact LE injuries were analyzed to remove non-modifiable risk factors. Comparisons were made between YBT results and incidence of injury in 46% of our athletes. Statistical analysis revealed no relationship between YBT measurements and LE injury. Our results are contradictory to those reported in recent studies from differing populations. Implementation difficulties and population differences are theorized reasons for our inability to achieve similar results. Clinically, our results underscore the need for clinicians to measure interventions within their own settings to determine usefulness and make the best decision for their patients.