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A retrospective review of baseline balance scores in college athletes
  1. Elizabeth Delasobera1,
  2. Mallory Shasteen2,
  3. Keon Parsa3,
  4. Justin Wierenga4
  1. 1Medstar Georgetown University Hospital and Medstar National Rehabilitation Hospital
  2. 2Medstar Georgetown University Hospital
  3. 3Georgetown University School of Medicine
  4. 4The Catholic University of America


Objective This study examines differences in baseline balance scores in order to establish normative data in college athletes, and also determine the potential effect of gender, sport, and concussion history on baseline performance.

Design Retrospective review

Setting Pre-participation evaluations of athletes at an American university.

Participants 961 varsity athletes, ages 17 to 21, both male and female from 2011 to 2015.

Independent Variables Gender, sport, and history of prior concussions.

Dependent Variable Baseline Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) scores.

Main Results The baseline BESS score for all athletes averaged 16.13 (range 2 to 40). Baseline BESS scores were significantly different in males (15.78) compared to females (16.84), with a difference of 1.056 (95% CI 0.233 to 1.890, P=0.013). Baseline scores averaged 17.40 in athletes with history of concussion compared to 16.45 in athletes with no prior concussion (CI 0.866 to 2.780, P=0.301). When comparing scores by sport, there were no significant differences in baseline scores between females who played field hockey, softball, volleyball, basketball, lacrosse, or soccer. There were no significant differences in baseline scores between males who played baseball, football, basketball, lacrosse, or soccer.

Conclusions When balance testing is used to assess an athlete after concussion injury, normative balance scores may be used in the absence of baseline scores. History of concussion and type of sport do not play a significant role in baseline balance assessment, however gender may alter the normative baseline data slightly

Competing interests None.

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