University Football Players, Postural Stability, and Concussions

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Graves, BS. University football players, postural stability, and concussions. J Strength Cond Res 30(2): 579–583, 2016—Concussion in football athletes is certainly more prevalent and has potentially serious outcomes. With current concerns and increasing return-to-play issues, additional assessment focus is needed. Division 1 college football athletes, from 18 to 20.9 years (n = 177; age, 19.7 ± 1.2 years; height, 182.3 ± 4.5 cm; weight, 97.3 ± 10.6 kg), before fall practice, over a period of 3 years, underwent baseline postural stability testing (sensory organization test [SOT], NeuroCom). Individuals, who were diagnosed with a concussion (headache, dizziness, fatigue, confusion, or loss of consciousness) during practice or actual competition (n = 15; age, 18.9 ± 0.9 years; height, 181.8 ± 2.5 cm; weight, 86.6 ± 3.6 kg), underwent serial evaluation after injury and 24 hours after concussion. As soon as the player was considered asymptomatic, the test was completed on the first and 14th day. A control group of noninjured male athletes (n = 15; age, 19.1 ± 0.4 years; height, 178.2 ± 3.2 cm; weight, 78.6 ± 2.1 kg) were tested for the same time frame. This particular study was only one part of the total evaluation conducted for the concussed athlete's return to play. Results indicated that the concussion group had a statistically significant (p = 0.037) change from their baseline SOT score and the control group (p = 0.025). This change remained significant until day 14 of posttesting. These data indicate that the SOT, when available, may be a positive additional assessment of concussed college-aged football players. Professionals, when dealing with concussion in competitive sports, do need to continue to work together, but awareness of SOT assessments may also contribute to the return-to-play decisions.

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