Take the Knee Injury Test (KIT)

Knee injuries can happen to any athlete, on any playing field, at any age. No one is completely immune to suffering an ACL or other serious knee injury, but there are some theories to why certain athletes are at a higher risk for a serious knee injury. Commonly, we look at the risk factors that we can modify to help decrease an athlete’s risk of injury. Some of these modifiable risk factors are associated with the athlete’s technique during jumping, landing, cutting and pivoting tasks. Other risk factors are commonly correlated with strength deficits, namely in the hips, hamstrings and quadriceps.  If we can identify these risk factors in athletes, we can recommend certain areas to concentrate on during the athlete’s training regimen in order to decrease their risk of injury. Here are four simple, at-home tests to determine if you or your athlete may be at an increased risk of injury.  These tests are not meant to replace professional testing or advice from a healthcare specialist.

1. The Drop Jump Test is commonly used to assess an athlete’s knee alignment on landing from a jump. This test helps identify improper technique and strength deficits. If an athlete lands with knocked knees, with the lasets this displays a high risk position for a knee injury and also shows possible hip strength deficits. Although, there is more that goes in to accurately measuring this test, below are two examples of a drop jump test, a good and a poor test. Click on each image to see which one your athlete resembles.  If your athlete looks more like the athlete on the left, he or she may be at a higher risk of injury.

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2. The Triple Hop Stability Test looks at the athlete’s ability to stabilize on a single leg landing. Lack of stability can equate to poor balance, strength and proprioception which can all lead to injury. For this test, the athlete will hop forward three times for distance and hold the final landing for 5 seconds. In order to pass the test, the athlete must be able to hold the landing for 5 seconds without falling. If the athlete must touch down with a hand or the opposite foot in order to stabilize, this would be considered a failed triple hop test.  The video on the left shows good technique on the triple hop landing.  The center video shows fair technique as the athlete has some trouble stabilizing the landing.  The video on the right shows a failed triple hop because the athlete must touch down with her hand to try to stabilize.

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SLH at UA 23.  The Triple Hop Limb Symmetry Test is similar to the triple hop stability test, but now we are looking for distance hopped on each limb.  Place a measuring tape on the floor.  Have the athlete perform 3 hops forward for distance along the measuring tape and hold the final landing for 5 seconds.  Measure the distance hopped on each leg.  The distance measure does not count if the athlete is unable to stick the landing without touching down with the other foot.  Take the shortest distance divided by the longest distance and multiply by 100 to get a percentage.  If the athlete’s limb symmetry is 85% or above, this is considered low risk.  For example, if the athlete hops for a distance of 140 inches on the right leg and 150 inches on the left leg, take 140 divided by 150 to get .9333.  Multiply this number by 100 to get a limb symmetry score of  93%.

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4.  The Single Leg Squat Test is used to identify hip strength deficits.  Hip strength is an integral part of knee alignment and injury prevention.  Athlete stands on a box or step with hands on hips and performs 5 consecutive single leg squats on each leg.  Athlete must squat as low as possible and maintain balance throughout all 5 squats (see figure 1).  If one hip drops lower than the other (figure 2), the knee of the stance leg points inward (figure 3), or the athlete has difficulty maintaining balance and good posture (figure 4), this may be an indication of poor hip strength.  

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