Bringing context to balance: development of a reactive balance test within the injury prevention and return to sport domain

Balance tests are commonly used in clinical practice with applicability in injury prevention and return to sport decisions. While most sports injuries occur in a changing environment where reacting to a non-planned stimulus is of great importance, these balance tests only evaluate pre-planned movements without taking these dynamics environmental aspects into account. Therefore, the goal of this paper was to describe the development of a clinician-friendly test that respects these contextual interactions and to describe the test protocol of an adapted Y-balance test that includes environmental perception and decision-making.

Within the theoretical construct of balance and adaptability, balance errors were selected as outcome measures for balance ability and, visuomotor reaction time and accuracy are selected as outcome measures for adaptability. A reactive balance task was developed and described using the Y-balance test for the balance component, while the FitLight training system TM was chosen for the environmental perception and decision- making component of the test.

Reactive balance test. MRD = Maximal Reach Distance; = Fit-light trainerTM LED-lights. The LED-lights are placed on the axes of the Y- balance kit at 80% of the MRD. Also, each LED-light on every axis has a designated colour (e.g. blue = anterior axis). The LED-light in front of the Y-balance kit randomly shows one of the corresponding colours and indicates in which direction the participant has to reach as fast as possible and without losing balance

Reactive balance test. MRD = Maximal Reach Distance; = Fit-light trainerTM LED-lights. The LED-lights are placed on the axes of the Y- balance kit at 80% of the MRD. Also, each LED-light on every axis has a designated colour (e.g. blue = anterior axis). The LED-light in front of the Y-balance kit randomly shows one of the corresponding colours and indicates in which direction the participant has to reach as fast as possible and without losing balance

This paper describes the test protocol of a reactive balance test as an adapted Y-balance test. The LED- lights of the FitLight training systemTM are placed at 80% of the maximal reach distance for each axis along the Y- Balance test kitTM. To induce cognitive load within the visuomotor task, colours were fixed to a corresponding axis, and both the order of the visual stimuli as the interstimulus time were randomised to integrate environmental perception and decision-making.

Jo Verschueren, Bruno Tassignon, Bert Pluym, Jeroen Van Cutsem, Evert Verhagen, Romain Meeusen. Bringing context to balance: development of a reactive balance test within the injury prevention and return to sport domain. Archives of Physiotherapy (2019) 9:6

The full article can be accessed here (open access)