The Effectiveness of Custom Orthotics at Reducing Injuries in a College Football Team

Brian Jensen, DC1,William Austin1, DC, J. Nathan Wilder2, MS, ATC, CSCS, Brent A. Ungar3, DC, CCSP, John Zhang4, MD, PhD, Dennis L. Nosco5, PhD, Mark Mandell1, DC, MBA
1-Foot Levelers, 2- Waynesburg College, 3- Private Practice, 4- Logan College of Chiropractic, 5-Nosco Consulting
Contribution from Foot Levelers Inc., Roanoke, VA



INTRODUCTION: American football is a violent sport involving high velocity directional changes and high velocity impact. The sport is performed by athletes of above-average strength, speed and, in many cases, weight. Lower body half (defined as from the lumbar spine down) injuries are common in football. While a number of studies have been published discussing ankle, knee, neck and mouth injuries and devices to make football safer, the incorporation of custom-made orthotics into football shoes to help prevent lower body-half injuries has, of yet, not been studied. Therefore a study was conducted looking at the effect of custom-made orthotics on the injury rate for a college football team using the previous year’s injury rate as the control. Secondary indicators such as satisfaction with orthotics and injury self-reports for this and previous seasons were also captured.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This study was approved through the Logan College Institutional Review Board. Players from the Waynesburg College football team (an NCAA Division III team) were recruited into the study. All participating players signed an informed consent form which described the study, the study risks and benefits and participant study responsibilities. Inclusion criteria for the study were as follows: a football player active on the team at the time of the start of the study, having read and signed informed consent document. Exclusion criteria included failing to complete the season on the football team and/or failing to wear their orthotics for at least two weeks. Study participants filled out a pre-study questionnaire.

Their feet were then scanned by a local chiropractor using the Associate scanner and the scans used to fit the players with Ultra Tough and Extreme XT custom-made orthotics from Foot Levelers Inc., the sponsor of this study. The players were instructed to wear the orthotics in their practice and game football shoes for the entire season and reminded they could stop their use of the orthotics and thus their participation in the study at any time. At the end of the study players were requested to fill out a post-study questionnaire. Data from the college injury database was gathered for the 2004 and 2005 seasons and data related to injuries of the lower body-half was extracted. The data were coded and analyzed by a 3rd party consultant. Statistical programs used included Microsoft Excel version 11.0 and SPSS, version 10.0.



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