Returning athletes to competition following injury often creates a dilemma for athletic trainers and team physicians. Most clinicians gather as much data as possible before deciding whether to return an athlete to competition following injury. The status of the postural control system and balance is important for certain pathologies and therefore should be considered in these clinical decisions. As more high-tech balance systems become available, it is important for clinicians to understand not only what is available but what these devices measure. This paper will review the relationship between the postural control system and the kinetic chain, traditional and contemporary techniques for assessing balance, and ways in which clinicians can bridge the gap between balance research and clinical practice.
Kevin M. Guskiewicz is with the Department of Physical Education, Exercise and Sport Science, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8700. David H. Perrin is with Athletic Training Education and Research, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903.