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Dynamic sagittal analysis of the young female gymnast's spine before and after physical therapy intervention

1 May 2000


There is an 11 % incidence of spondylolysis in the pediatric female gymnast. This is approximately four times the expected rate in North American females. The increased incidence is thought to be due to hyperextension coupled with rotation in either a single episode of macrotrauma or repetitive microtrauma. The purpose of this study was to determine if physical therapy interventions taught in a group setting could decrease the amount of hyperextension in the lumbar spine. Two groups of female gymnasts from local gymnasiums participated in this study. The experimental group (n=18) received physical therapy intervention in the form of an exercise program taught by a physical therapist. The physical therapist taught the program 6 hours a week for the first 4 weeks. The amount of teaching hours was reduced to 4 hours a week for the next 4 weeks and 3 hours a week for the remaining 7 months. To ensure that the program was being run correctly, coaches maintained the physical therapy intervention program when the physical therapist was not present. The control group (n=4) underwent a pre and posttest only. The control group was followed for 5 months. The components of spinal mobility analyzed were thoracic extension, total lumbar extension and lower lumbar extension. A statistical significant change in total lumbar, lower lumbar, and thoracic motion was not found between or within the control or exercise groups. These findings were due primarily to the large variability found in both groups.


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