Aim Athletes with poor neuromuscular control of the lower limb and pelvis are more susceptible to non-contact injuries such as primary1 and secondary2 ACL injury. Neuromuscular screening methods can be utilised to identify individuals that may benefit from injury preventative methods. The aim of this pilot study is to prospectively evaluate the effectiveness of a visual rating criteria that does not limit focus to knee valgus alone and has not previously been used in a prospective study. The null hypothesis for this study is: poor neuromuscular control does not predispose an athlete to an increased risk of injury.
Methods 21 male footballers and 9 hockey players (4 male, 5 female) with a mean age of 21.5 years (SD 7.74) performed 3 repetitions of the single leg squat test on each limb whilst 2D video analysis software captured the movement in the sagittal plane. A single-leg loading qualitative assessment tool (QASLS) proposed by Herrington et al 3 was used to grade the neuromuscular control and injury statistics were collated throughout the remaining seasons of both sports.
Results Individuals that sustained injury (n=7), were found to have a poorer QASLS score than those that did not. Statistical significance was observed (p=0.01) between the two groups and inter-reliability of the assessment tool was good with no statistical difference (P=0.72) between two examiners who independently scored the athletes.
Conclusions The findings indicate that the QASLS is an effective and reliable tool for predicting injuries in athletes and as such can be used as a neuromuscular screening method as part of an injury preventative screening approach. These findings offer great potential for larger repeat studies of longer duration.