Avoid ACL Injury with dorsaVi Movement Assessments
Posted on 9/11/2018 by Brian Brewer, CPT
School is back in session and fall sports are underway! From the gridiron to the soccer field to the volleyball court, athletes of all levels are hitting the field. With increased play, however, there is also an increased risk for injury.
Did you know that there are movement assessments designed to assess ACL injury risk? Within Select Medical’s Outpatient Division*, we provide movement assessments using dorasaVi wireless wearable sensors to measure exactly how individuals move. This technology allows our highly trained clinical team objectively analyze body movement and muscle activation, utilizing a test called the Athletic Movement Index, or AMI. With this testing, we are able to accurately determine an athlete’s ability to safely perform higher level movements, such as cutting, pivoting and deceleration, all of which can lead to ACL injury if not performed efficiently.
The ACL is one of four ligaments in the knee that provide joint stability. Roughly 70 percent of ACL injuries during high-risk sports are non-contact injuries, meaning no collision occurred when the ACL tore. As an athlete begins to tire throughout the course of a game or event, their efficiency in movement begins to suffer, their mechanics become faulty and their risk for injury is heightened. If we can recreate these conditions during movement assessments, we are more able to determine an athletes risk for ACL injury. The AMI is a test that simulates the fatigue factor that plays a role in ACL injuries.
The AMI runs the athlete through a battery of movements, designed to assess core strength and stability, hip strength and mobility and efficiency moving through single-leg movements, such as a single-leg squat and a single-leg hop. The single-leg movements analyze the movement of the knee, whether it is collapsing inward or outward past neutral and the degree of loading, or depth, that the participant is able to go to, both of which are important indicators in assessing ACL injury risk. If the knee is not staying neutral during single-leg movements, then there is weakness in the hip, specifically the gluteus medius muscle, which is leading to inefficient movement. The higher the speed that the knee is moving out of neutral, the higher the risk of ACL injury there is. Similarly, if the athlete is not loading deep enough, and that is coupled with a high speed of displacement, then their risk is increased even more. Through strengthening the hips and core effectively and deliberately, based on the test results, clinicians can help reduce an athlete’s risk of injury dramatically.
Our exclusive ACL Play it Safe Program is an ACL prevention program, designed specifically to go hand-in-hand with the AMI and address the faulty mechanics that lead to ACL injuries. The program consists of a mobile application, with pre- and post-practice exercises and drills to be performed. Additionally, there is an ACL Play it Safe Kit that consists of equipment designed to improve strength and conditioning of the muscles responsible for controlling mechanics during dynamic movements that can cause injuries.
The pre-practice exercises are dynamic warm-ups that should be used to increase flexibility and mobility in the hips, knees and ankles:
High knee with calf raise
These pre-practice exercises should be performed for 15 yards down and back, two times each. This will help to warm-up the hips and knees, and prime them for efficient movement.
The post-practice exercises utilize the TheraBand CLX, TheraBand Ankle Cuff and TheraBand Stability Trainer. These should be done after practice when the athlete is tired. If an athlete can strengthen and train with proper mechanics while they are tired, then it will be that much easier for them to perform efficiently on the field when they reach the same level of fatigue. There is a multitude of post-practice exercises, with some listed below:
CLX spiral technique
TB cuff side stepping with kicks
Single leg toss on stability trainer
CLX plank with kicks
All of the post-practice exercises are designed to help strengthen the core and gluteus medius muscle and prevent a displacement of the knee during dynamic movements. Of course, as with any exercise routine, static stretching and/or foam rolling should also be performed following the completion of the program.
Through objective analysis of muscle activation and subjective observations of movement, clinicians are able to determine ACL injury risk with high accuracy. If we can address poor mechanics of movement through assessment prior to when an athlete takes the field and introduce them to ACL Programs designed to addressed these poor mechanics, we can start to minimize lost time on the field, see an increase in performance and help athletes be more confident in their sport.
*NovaCare Rehabilitation and NovaCare are part of the Select Medial Outpatient Division family of brands.
By: Brian Brewer, CPT, is a strength and conditioning specialist for NovaCare Rehabilitation in Annapolis, Maryland.