Functional Performance Deficits in Athletes with Previous Lower Extremity Injury

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ObjectiveTo evaluate the influence of previously treated, though clinically resolved, lower extremity injury on performance in a timed 20-meter shuttle run.DesignCase control study.SettingNational Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I college during the 2000/2001 preparticipation physicals.ParticipantsNCAA Division I athletes (n = 213) participated in this research study. Athletes were excluded if they presently had an unresolved lower extremity injury or low back pain.Main Outcome MeasuresTime to complete a 20-meter shuttle run was recorded. Previous lower extremity injury and college year were recorded via a short questionnaire.ResultsA significantly slower response time on the 20-meter shuttle run was observed in freshman athletes with a history of a lower extremity injury, as compared with freshmen without a previous injury (p = 0.01). No significant difference was noted in nonfreshman collegiate athletes regardless of injury history (p = 0.98).ConclusionKinetic chain deficits may exist long after symptomatic recovery from injury resulting in functional deficits, which may be missed on a standard physical assessment. The slower shuttle run times observed in freshmen with previous lower extremity injury may be a manifestation of insufficient treatment received at the high school level or the benefit of a mandatory core strengthening program in returning athletes. Further study is necessary to identify and validate the cause-and-effect relationship.Clinical RelevanceThis study may support residual functional deficits in incoming college athletes, which may be related to inadequate care in the high school setting.

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