Date of Award:

5-31-2012

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Health, Physical Education, and Recreation

Advisor/Chair:

Dennis Dolny

Abstract

Computerized Dynamic Posturography has recently provided a means of objectively measuring balance and postural stability. Using this technology to compare pre-injured data with post-injury data can aid athletic trainers in monitoring the assessment of balance while determining when to return an athlete to participation. The purpose of this research is to determine if balance measurements are influenced by injury and the rate at which balance is restored as the athlete is returned to play. A qualitative design was conducted using a case study format. Seven female Division I soccer athletes served as subjects. All subjects experienced lower extremity injuries during the competitive season and were returned to play during that same season. Subjects' balance, postural sway, and stability were measured in spring using the Neurocom® Smart Balance Master. These measurements included Sensory Organization Test, Motor Control Test (MCT), and Adaptation Test (ADT). Once injured the subjects were measured: (1) as soon as they were able to bear weight on the affected leg; (2) once they were cleared to return to play; and (3) 2 weeks after they had returned to play. The measurements were compared to the baseline testing and also to each other in order to determine changes in balance throughout the rehabilitation and return to play process. Compared to the athlete's baseline data, post-injury data showed weight symmetry changes (unloading involved limb), increased latency scores during the ADT, and ankle/hip dominance shifting toward hip preference. As the rehabilitation process continued, most of the variables that had been disrupted migrated toward a return to pre-injury baseline. Two weeks after the subjects had been cleared to return to participation the majority of balance variables were either equal to or greater than baseline. Athletic trainers need to consider many factors when determining when an athlete should be cleared to participate following an injury. Balance and postural stability are important factors in decreasing re-injury as well as improving overall performance. Utilizing new technologies that provide more objective information on balance gives the clinicians more information to help them make return-to-play decisions.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on July 30, 2012.

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