Postural Control and Head Impact Exposure in Youth Football Players: Comparison of the Balance Error Scoring System and a Force Plate Protocol

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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  • 1 Virginia Tech
  • 2 Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine
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Postural control testing is often used by clinicians and athletic trainers to assess the health of athletes during recovery from a concussion. Characterization of postural control as a clinical tool for use with youth athletes is limited though. The objective of this study was to compare performance on the Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) and a force plate protocol at the beginning and end of a season of football within a cohort of 34 healthy youth football players (average age of 9.9 ± 0.6 y). A secondary aim was to investigate if changes in measures of balance from the postseason to the preseason were correlated with head impact exposure. Players completed testing at the beginning and end of the youth football season. There were no significant differences between BESS scores before the season and after the season (P = .54). Performance on the BESS was not associated with any of the center of pressure metrics considered in this study. No correlation was observed between measures of balance and head impact exposure for the season. Further research is required to determine the viability of postural control testing with this population.

Campolettano and Rowson are with the Dept of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. Brolinson is with the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Blacksburg, VA.

Address author correspondence to Steven Rowson at rowson@vt.edu.
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