Establishing associations for the evaluation of mobility screen (EMS) in an adult South African population

Master Thesis


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Background: Muscle, joint and bone injuries affect mobility and stability, which in turn limits physical activity. Screening tests such as the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) are used to assess an individual’s mobility and stability to determine whether any movement dysfunctions exist. Screening tests aim to establish an individual’s injury risk with the goal of guiding an intervention program. The Evaluation of Mobility Screen (EMS) is a screening test that has been developed at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa. The EMS has been adapted from the FMS by exchanging the Rotatory Stability test for the Seated Rotation test. The current use of screening tools is limited because of the lack of normative data sets that represent the diversity of age, gender and physical activity levels in the general population. Most current published data represent athletes or younger populations. By establishing the relationship between screening outcomes and variables such as age, gender and physical activity level, the effectiveness of screening tests may be improved. Aim: To describe associations between EMS scores for males and females across different age groups and levels of physical activity. Objective: To evaluate and compare differences in EMS scores relating to age, gender and physical activity levels. Methods: This was a quantitative study, with a descriptive, correlational design. The sample consisted of 135 males and 127 females between the ages of 18 and 60. The EMS data were collected at the HighPerformance Centre, in the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, Cape Town. Results: There was no difference between the total scores of males and females (median = 17). The two youngest groups (20-30 and 31-40 years) scored the highest (median = 17), while the oldest group (51-60 years) scored the lowest (median = 15). Gender had a significant effect (p < 0.05) on five subtests (Single Leg Hurdle, Shoulder Mobility, Asymmetric Leg Raise, Stability Push Up and Seated Rotation). Age had a significant effect (p < 0.05) on three subtests (Overhead Squat, Single Leg, Hurdle Split Squat). Physical activity level had a significant effect (p < 0.05) with two subtests (Single leg Hurdle and Stability Push Up). Conclusion: Gender, Age and Physical Activity are associated with changes in EMS scores. EMS total scores declined as age increased. While the total scores remain similar between genders, there were clear variations within the different subtests. The oldest participants (51-60 year) scored the lowest throughout all subtests. Males scored higher in the strength components, while females scored higher in the flexibility components. Physical activity levels did not have a clear pattern as expected but still demonstrated association with two subtests. The results add to the sentiment that the focus should move away from the composite scoring system, and towards analyzing individual subtest scores. Future studies should also investigate if subtest scores can be improved by targeted intervention programs.