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Athletic development specialists dedicated to the art and science of excellence in movement

Functional Movement Screen and the Beighton Score

In previous months (and years) we have covered research on both the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) and the Beighton score.  The FMS is one method to screen for injury risk in healthy populations, with most of the prior research having been conducted on athletes.  The Beighton score is a commonly used screen for joint hypermobility, often used with children to assess risk of developmental conditions.

Though both the FMS and Beighton score appear strictly biomechanical, there is actually a deep neuromuscular component in both screens.  Most notably, joint laxity/hypermobility has been linked to psychological conditions at all ages.  The FMS has not been formally shown to directly correlate with such pediatric conditions, but there is reason to believe movement in general relates closely to behavior, especially in youth. 

Despite the growing literature on the FMS, there has been scant published work on children, though anecdotally several patterns among youth athletes are emerging in the field.  However, one very recent study looked at the FMS on kids and compared scores with Beighton scores.  (Paszkewicz 2013)  In this study, authors sampled sixty six healthy, athletic kids ages 8 to 14 and put them through the FMS and a Beighton test.  Kids were separated into three groups based on age. 

Authors found that FMS score was highest with post-pubescent children, but there were no gender relations for either the FMS or the Beighton score.  On average, all groups were not in the “at risk” category for either the FMS or Beighton score.  Average group FMS scores ranged from 14.28 for early-pubescent to 15.91 for post-pubescent children (pre-pubescent, the youngest, scored in between). 

The study concludes that “Our results suggest that the FMS(TM) can discriminate between levels of pubescence and detect alterations during the pubertal growth cycle whereas the (Beighton score) may not.”  However, based on the FMS scoring criteria I’m not sure we can go that far. While average FMS score is one way to observe a population, there is no evidence to suggest that a score of 15 is better than 14 (so long as there are no failed individual screens or asymmetries). 

Remember that a 14 with symmetrical 2’s on each test is the cutoff where injury risk increases or decreases, depending on which side the individual falls.  Yes, 15 is “better” than 14, but there’s no published evidence that 15, 16, 17 or even a perfect 21 is better than 14, assuming no asymmetries (In fact, one study actually suggests injury risk goes up with a score of 19 or higher).    

Nonetheless, it would be interesting to explore any correlation among those individuals who failed one or both tests.  Despite the difficulty to draw conclusions or identify tight correlations, the concept behind this study does open interesting possibilities for future inquiry to link movement, joint laxity, injury, and psychosocial factors related to each. 

Reference

Paszkewicz JR Mr, Welch McCarty C Dr.  COMPARISON OF FUNCTIONAL AND STATIC EVALUATION TOOLS AMONG ADOLESCENT ATHLETES.  J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Jan 8. [Epub ahead of print]

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