Though essential to athletic performance, the ability to land from a jump often remains limited following injury. While recommended, jump training is difficult to include in rehabilitation programs due to high impact forces. Body weight support (BWS) is frequently used in rehabilitation of gait following neurological and orthopedic injury, and may also allow improved rehabilitation of high-impact tasks. There is a differential effect of BWS on walking and running gaits, and the effect of BWS on movements with relatively large vertical displacement is unknown. The current study evaluates the effect of BWS on a replicable singleleg hopping task. We posited that progressive BWS would decrease limb loading while maintaining the joint kinematics of the task. Twenty-eight participants repetitively hopped on and off a box at each of four BWS levels. Peak vertical ground reaction forces decreased by 22.5% between 0% and 30% BWS (P < .001). Average hip, knee, and ankle internal moments decreased by 0.5 N·m/kg each. Slight kinematic changes across BWS levels were clinically insignificant. The high level of task specificity evidenced by consistent kinematics coupled with a similar reduction of internal moment at each joint suggests that BWS may be a useful strategy for rehabilitation of jumping tasks.
Audrey R.C. Elias, Curt D. Hammill, and Ryan L. Mizner are with the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.