Musculoskeletal screening involves gathering information about each individual’s injury history and conducting a series of sport specific examinations to determine any deficits in muscle strength, stability, control and length as well as joint structure, stability alignment and function that may contribute to an increased risk of injury. There is increasing evidence that injury rates can be reduced through the implementation of sports specific screenings. Numerous AFL football clubs attribute lower incidences of soft tissue injuries to stringent screening protocols that enabled for at risk athletes to be identified. Another notable example of the benefits of screening come from the English Premier League with Ruud van Nistelrooy a Dutch player rupturing his ACL within days of failing his musculoskeletal screening at Manchester United.
Screenings allow physiotherapists to gain information about:
- Past and current injuries allow for improved injury management and prevention
- Identify areas of deficit or weakness that can be targeted with specific exercise prescription
- Track physical changes over time and responses to training load in developing athletes allowing for improved management of high training and competition loading
- Allows for correct exercise prescription for optimum musculoskeletal conditioning to allow for effective sports strengthening and physiotherapy.
So when should athletes be screened?
Ideally at the earliest opportunity, such as prior to joining a high level squad or team. Initially a full screening should be performed to allow the physio to gain an in-depth understanding of the athletes musculoskeletal profile and therefore develop an appropriate training and exercise plan.
Sport specific screenings will be individualised to ensure that the demands of each particular sport are assessed.
A typical screening will involve assessing posture, movement patterns, muscle length and strength, sports specific movement and joint flexibility. This information is then collated by your physiotherapist who can then provide coaches and high performance staff with crucial information that influences overall training and performance. Periodic reviews of athletes exercise programs by the physiotherapists together with follow up screenings ensures that each athletes program is addressing the outcomes outlined from the initial screening. Screenings identify athletes’ potential risk factors towards injury and allows for the creation of an individualised approach to training programs.
Screenings become even more crucial for adolescent athletes as it allows physiotherapists to determine the impact of growth on strength and sport specific activities. This also provides an optimal opportunity to provide athletes, coaches and parents with appropriate education about acute injuries, optimal recovery methods and training approaches.
Screenings not only provide your physiotherapist with crucial information for injury prevention but also allow for baseline measures to be collected that can be used as references for general monitoring and future rehabilitation.
Currently Physiohelath conducts the following screenings: