Balance index score as a predictive factor for lower sports results or anterior cruciate ligament knee injuries in Croatian female athletes—preliminary study

Tea Schnurrer-Luke Vrbanić, Jagoda Ravlić-Gulan, Gordan Gulan, Damir Matovinović
Collegium Antropologicum 2007, 31 (1): 253-8
Female athletes participating in high-risk sports suffer anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injury at a 4- to 6-fold greater rate than do male athletes. ACL injuries result either from contact mechanisms or from certain unexplained non-contact mechanisms occurring during daily professional sports activities. The occurrence of non-contact injuries points to the existence of certain factors intrinsic to the knee that can lead to ACL rupture. When knee joint movement overcomes the static and the dynamic constraint systems, non-contact ACL injury may occur. Certain recent results suggest that balance and neuromuscular control play a central role in knee joint stability, protection and prevention of ACL injuries. The purpose of this study is to evaluate balance neuromuscular skills in healthy Croatian female athletes by measuring their balance index score, as well as to estimate a possible correlation between their balance index score and balance effectiveness. This study is conducted in an effort to reduce the risk of future injuries and thus prevent female athletes from withdrawing from sports prematurely. We analysed fifty-two female athletes in the high-risk sports of handball and volleyball, measuring for their static and dynamic balance index scores, using the Sport KAT 2000 testing system. This method may be used to monitor balance and coordination systems and may help to develop simpler measurements of neuromuscular control, which can be used to estimate risk predictors in athletes who withdraw from sports due to lower sports results or ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and to direct female athletes to more effective, targeted preventive interventions. The tested Croatian female athletes with lower sports results and ACL knee injury incurred after the testing were found to have a higher balance index score compared to healthy athletes. We therefore suggest that a higher balance index score can be used as an effective risk predictor for lower sports results and lesser sports motivation, anterior cruciate ligament injury and the ultimate decision to withdraw from active participation in sports. If the balance testing results prove to be effective in predicting the occurrence of ligament injuries during future sports activities, we suggest that prophylactic training programs be introduced during athlete training, since the prevention of an initial injury will be more effective than prevention of injury recurrence.

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