A Novel Method for Assessment of Proprioception

(1) The Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, CT

Proprioception is the sense of the relative position of body parts and movement, as detected by mechanoreceptors located in muscles, joints, and fascia throughout the body. Various attempts have been made to quantify this sensory function. Furthermore, its impairment has been documented in humans with viral infection that specifically damages proprioceptive neurons of the central nervous system. To test the proprioceptive acuity of high school athletes, we sought to establish a quantitative assessment of proprioception. In this study, we hypothesized that varsity-level athletes would have a superior sense of body positioning and thus perform better than non-varsity athletes, irrespective of sport. A novel approach was developed that utilizes two motor tasks of shoulder-arm positioning: arm placement at defined clock-face positions and random radial arm movement on an x,y plane. Using these quantitative methods, we provide a ‘proprioceptive index’ for each athlete as a measure of sensory integration and motor output. Participants were grouped by participation in sports: soccer, hockey, basketball, or dance. We found a significant correlation between dancers and their ability to precisely reproduce motor movements.

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proprioception sports movement