Purpose/Background: Functional tests have been used primarily to assess an athlete’s fitness or readiness to return to sport. The purpose of this prospective cohort study was to determine the ability of the standing long jump (SLJ) test, the single-leg hop (SLH) for distance test, and the lower extremity functional test (LEFT) as preseason screening tools to identify collegiate athletes who may be at increased risk for a time-loss sports-related low back or lower extremity injury.
Methods: A total of 193 Division III athletes from 15 university teams (110 females, age 19.1 ± 1.1 y; 83 males, age 19.5 ± 1.3 y) were tested prior to their sports seasons. Athletes performed the functional tests in the following sequence: SLJ, SLH, LEFT. The athletes were then prospectively followed during their sports season for occurrence of low back or LE injury.
Results: Female athletes who completed the LEFT in 118 s were 6 times more likely (OR=6.4, 95% CI: 1.3, 31.7) to sustain a thigh or knee injury. Male athletes who completed the LEFT in 100 s were more likely to experience a time-loss injury to the low back or LE (OR=3.2, 95% CI: 1.1, 9.5) or a foot or ankle injury (OR=6.7, 95% CI: 1.5, 29.7) than male athletes who completed the LEFT in 101 s or more. Female athletes with a greater than 10% side-to-side asymmetry between SLH distances had a 4-fold increase in foot or ankle injury (cut point: >10%; OR=4.4, 95% CI: 1.2, 15.4). Male athletes with SLH distances (either leg) at least 75% of their height had at least a 3-fold increase (OR=3.6, 95% CI: 1.2, 11.2 for the right LE; OR=3.6, 95% CI: 1.2, 11.2 for left LE) in low back or LE injury.
Conclusions: The LEFT and the SLH tests appear useful in identifying Division III athletes at risk for a low back or lower extremity sports injury. Thus, these tests warrant further consideration as preparticipatory screening examination tools for sport injury in this population.
Clinical Relevance: The single-leg hop for distance and the lower extremity functional test, when administered to Division III athletes during the preseason, may help identify those at risk for a time-loss low back or lower extremity injury.
Published in International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 2013; 8(3): 216-227 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/journals/1500/