Seasonal Changes in Functional Fitness and Neurocognitive Assessments in Youth Ice-Hockey Players

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Abstract

Avery, M, Wattie, N, Holmes, M, and Dogra, S. Seasonal changes in functional fitness and neurocognitive assessments in youth ice-hockey players. J Strength Cond Res 32(11): 3143–3152, 2018—Deficits in balance and strength combined with differing rates of sensory and motor neural development may increase risk of sports-related injury in youth. This study evaluated changes in functional fitness and concussion status over the course of a competitive season in youth ice-hockey players, and examined the relationship between these variables and injury occurrence. Thirty-six participants (8.9 ± 1.1 years) completed preseason and postseason assessments including anthropometric measurements, the functional movement screen (FMS), Lower Quarter Y-Balance Test (YBT-LQ), and a computerized neurocognitive assessment (ImPACT). Paired-samples t-tests were used to compare preseason and postseason data. Independent samples t-tests were used to compare FMS, YBT-LQ, and ImPACT scores between injured and uninjured participants at baseline. The mean composite score of the FMS was not statistically different between preseason (15.1 ± 1.8) and postseason (15.6 ± 2.3, p < 0.16). The YBT-LQ composite score showed a decrease in reach distance scores between preseason (86.10 ± 6.00) and postseason (83.20 ± 5.40, p < 0.001). Neurocognitive assessment scores improved in both the injured and uninjured participants. There were no significant relationships between FMS scores, YBT-LQ, and injury incidence. Results from our study provide insight into changes in functional fitness levels and neurocognitive scores over the course of a season in youth ice-hockey players. These findings provide insight into expected changes over the course of a season and provide context for injury risk monitoring by coaches.

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