Prediction of Injury by Limited and Asymmetrical Fundamental Movement Patterns in American Football Players

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Kyle B. Kiesel
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Robert J. Butler
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Philip J. Plisky
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Previous injury is the strongest risk factor for future injury in sports. It has been proposed that motor-control changes such as movement limitation and asymmetry associated with injury and pain may be perpetuated as part of an individual's movement strategy. Motor control of fundamental 1-×-body-weight tasks can reliably and efficiently be measured in the field.


To determine whether the motor control of fundamental movement patterns and pattern asymmetry have a relationship with time-loss injury over the course of the preseason in professional football.


Injury-risk study.


American professional football facilities.


238 American professional football players.


To measure the motor control of 1-×-body-weight fundamental movement patterns, Functional Movement Screen scores were obtained before the start of training camp. The previously established cutoff score of ≤14 and the presence of any asymmetries on the FMS were examined using relative risk to determine if a relationship exists with time-loss injury.

Main Outcome Measure:

Time-loss musculoskeletal injury defined as any time loss from practice or competition due to musculoskeletal injury.


Players who scored ≤14 exhibited a relative risk of 1.87 (CI95 1.20–2.96). Similarly, players with at least 1 asymmetry displayed a relative risk of 1.80 (CI95 1.11–2.74). The combination of scoring below the threshold and exhibiting a movement asymmetry was highly specific for injury, with a specificity of .87 (CI95 .84–.90).


The results of this study suggest that fundamental movement patterns and pattern asymmetry are identifiable risk factors for time-loss injury during the preseason in professional football players.

Kiesel and Plisky are with the Dept of Physical Therapy, University of Evansville, Evansville, IN. Butler is with the Physical Therapy Div, Duke University, Durham, NC.

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