Study design: Controlled single-group pretest/posttest design.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine if a 6-week neuromuscular training program designed to decrease the incidence of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries would improve single-limb postural stability in young female athletes. We hypothesized neuromuscular training would result in an improvement in postural stability, with the greatest improvement taking place in the medial-lateral direction.
Background: Balance training has become a common component of programs designed to prevent ACL injury. Rehabilitation programs can improve postural stability following ACL injury and reconstruction; however, there is limited information available which quantifies improvement of postural stability following neuromuscular training designed to prevent ACL injuries in a healthy population.
Methods and measures: Forty-one healthy female high school athletes (mean age, 15.3 years; age range, 13-17 years) participated in this study. Single-limb postural stability for both lower extremities was assessed with a Biodex Stability System. The neuromuscular training program consisted of three 90-minute training sessions per week for 6 weeks. Following the completion of the training program, each subject was re-evaluated to determine change in total, anterior-posterior, and medial-lateral single-limb stability. Two-way analysis of variance models were used to determine differences between pretraining and posttraining and between limbs.
Results: The subjects showed a significant improvement in single-limb total stability (P = .004) and anterior-posterior stability (P = .001), but not medial-lateral stability (P = .650) for both the right and left lower extremity following training. In addition, the subjects demonstrated significantly better total postural stability on the right side as compared to the left (P = .026).
Conclusions: A 6-week neuromuscular training program designed to decrease the incidence of ACL injuries improves objective measures of total and anterior-posterior single-limb postural stability in high school female athletes.