Y-Balance test asymmetry is greater in collegiate athletes with a history of concussion

Athletes with a history of concussion (HC) are at an increased risk of sustaining lower extremity injuries. It is unclear if these individuals exhibit dynamic postural control deficits associated with lower extremity injury risk. The purpose of this study was to determine if collegiate athletes with a HC demonstrate differences in Y-Balance Test (YBT) performance compared to athletes with no history of concussion (NHC). A total of 116 varsity and club athletes from a Division-I university participated. Forty participants reported a HC (female/male: 31/9, age: 20.0 ± 1.4 years, height: 169.3 ± 13.1 cm, mass: 68.4 ± 14.0 kg) while 76 reported NHC (female/male: 60/16, age: 20.0 ± 1.7 years, height: 168.5 ± 12.9 cm, mass: 68.7 ± 14.6 kg). Individuals with a current concussion or lower extremity injury, or a history of lower extremity surgery were excluded. Participants completed the YBT anterior reach direction barefoot on both limbs. The YBT was completed by maximally reaching anteriorly, maintaining balance, and returning to the starting position without errors. Participants completed 4 practice trials and 3 test trials. Reach distances were averaged and normalized to leg length. Between-limb asymmetry was calculated as the absolute difference between the left and right limbs. Separate independent t-tests examined group differences in normalized reach distances and asymmetry. The proportion of participants in each group with >4 cm of asymmetry was compared using a 2 test. Alpha was set at 0.05 for all analyses. No group differences were identified in normalized reach distances for the left (HC: 61.4% ± 9.2%, NHC: 60.8% ± 6.2%, p = 0.88, ES = 0.08) or right (HC: 61.4% ± 6.2%, NHC: 60.2% ± 6.8%, p = 0.51, ES = 0.17) limbs. However, a greater proportion of HC participants demonstrated >4 cm asymmetry (HC: 40.0%, NHC: 19.7%; p = 0.02) and these participants exhibited greater asymmetry (HC: 3.87 ± 3.69 cm, NHC: 2.40 ± 2.13 cm, p = 0.03; ES = 0.53). Athletes with a HC exhibited greater asymmetry compared to athletes with NHC. Anterior reach asymmetries of >4 cm are associated with greater lower extremity injury risk. The YBT may provide a clinical technique to further explore the relationship between concussion and lower extremity injury.

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