The Lower-Extremity Functional Test and Lower-Quadrant Injury in NCAA Division III Athletes: A Descriptive and Epidemiologic Report

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context:

The Lower-Extremity Functional Test (LEFT) has been used to assess readiness to return to sport after a lowerextremity injury. Current recommendations suggest that women should complete the LEFT in 135 s (average; range 120–150 s) and men should complete the test in 100 s (average; range 90–125 s). However, these estimates are based on limited data and may not be reflective of college athletes. Thus, additional assessment, including normative data, of the LEFT in sport populations is warranted.

Objective:

To examine LEFT times based on descriptive information and off-season training habits in NCAA Division III (DIII) athletes. In addition, this study prospectively examined the LEFT’s ability to discriminate sport-related injury occurrence.

Design:

Descriptive epidemiology.

Setting:

DIII university.

Subjects:

189 DIII college athletes (106 women, 83 men) from 15 teams.

Main Outcome Measures:

LEFT times, preseason questionnaire, and time-loss injuries during the sport season.

Results:

Men completed the LEFT (105 ± 9 s) significantly faster than their female counterparts (117 ± 10 s) (P < .0001). Female athletes who reported >3–5 h/wk of plyometric training during the off-season had significantly slower LEFT scores than those who performed ≤3 h/wk of plyometric training (P = .03). The overall incidence of a lower-quadrant (LQ) time-loss injury for female athletes was 4.5/1000 athletic exposures (AEs) and 3.7/1000 AEs for male athletes. Female athletes with slower LEFT scores (≥118 s) experienced a higher rate of LQ time-loss injuries than those with faster LEFT scores (≤117 s) (P = .03).

Conclusion:

Only off-season plyometric training practices seem to affect LEFT score times among female athletes. Women with slower LEFT scores are more likely to be injured than those with faster LEFT scores. Injury rates in men were not influenced by performance on the LEFT.

Brumitt is with the Physical Therapy Program, George Fox University, Newberg, OR. Heiderscheit is with the Dept of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI. Manske is with the Dept of Physical Therapy, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS. Niemuth is with the Dept of Physical Therapy, St Catherine University, Minneapolis, MN. Mattocks is with the MSAT Program, Spalding University, Louisville, KY. Rauh is with the Physical Therapy Program, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA.

Address author correspondence to Jason Brumitt at jbrumitt@georgefox.edu.