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Validating a Dance-specific Screening Test for Balance: Preliminary Results from Multisite Testing

Glenna Batson
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 25 Number 3: Page 110 (September 2010)

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Abstract: Few dance-specific screening tools adequately capture balance. The aim of this study was to administer and modify the Star Excursion Balance Test (oSEBT) to examine its utility as a balance screen for dancers. The oSEBT involves standing on one leg while lightly targeting with the opposite foot to the farthest distance along eight spokes of a star-shaped grid. This task simulates dance in the spatial pattern and movement quality of the gesturing limb. The oSEBT was validated for distance on athletes with history of ankle sprain. METHOD: Thirty-three dancers (age 20.1 ± 1.4 yrs) participated from two contemporary dance conservatories (UK and US), with or without a history of lower extremity injury. Dancers were verbally instructed (without physical demonstration) to execute the oSEBT and four modifications (mSEBT): timed (speed), timed with cognitive interference (answering questions aloud), and sensory disadvantaging (foam mat). Stepping strategies were tracked and performance strategies video-recorded. RESULTS: Unlike the oSEBT results, distances reached were not significant statistically (p = 0.05) or descriptively (i.e., shorter) for either group. Performance styles varied widely, despite sample homogeneity and instructions to control for strategy. Descriptive analysis of mSEBT showed an increased number of near-falls and decreased timing on the injured limb. CONCLUSIONS: Dancers appeared to employ variable strategies to keep balance during this test. Quantitative analysis is warranted to define balance strategies for further validation of SEBT modifications to determine its utility as a balance screening tool.

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