PhotobucketI recently read a piece on Kyle Korver discussing his impending return from injury, and why it was delayed. The piece said:

“Although he’d hoped to return in the coming days, Korver will have to wait a little longer. He said Thursday that Cybex testing showed he still has strength to regain in his hamstring and quadriceps following surgery.

As a result, Korver will cease court work for a week and focus on rebuilding strength in his leg. Korver said he would need to test at 75 percent to be “borderline” to play; his quadriceps was 70 percent and his hamstring 56 percent.”

To this point, I wasn’t really clear on what was meant by Cybex Testing. I had only vaguely heard of it from NFL Combine chatter, but the passage intrigued me. Here, it seemed, there was a scientific method in place for measuring the recovery of injured muscles and joints. Being the Sports Maven that I am, I had to do some research to find out what exactly Cybex Testing is, and what future potential it has for the sports industry.

In a broad general sense, the Cybex Test is a fitness exam meant to test joint movement, strength and flexibility. That’s it. Nothing special there, although it becomes clear why NFL teams would want to perform the testing on prospects with injury red flags. It can also measure the balance in strength between the right and left leg, which probably has very little predictive/scouting value but could be a useful coaching tool.

That’s what I came up with from a brief Google search. Obviously, I had to dig deeper. The following are some points of interest I managed to dig up.

Cybex International
The company responsible for Cybex Testing is Cybex International (go figure), and a look around their website is recommended. They deal with a great number of sports solutions and exercise equipment, with an obvious focus on advancing fitness through technology. They have several pieces of high-end, technology-based, and ergonomically focused athletic training equipment, and seriously, a look around the website is a good time for those of us who like to drool over how much more efficiently we could train if we had professional resources at our disposal.

More importantly than their product line, I started to get a better sense of how Cybex testing works. From what I gather, Cybex equipment, by way of “technology” and equipment that conforms to natural human movements, can give a better indication of strength and cardiovascular fitness. Most importantly, I think, is the strength aspect – it appears, from what I’ve read across multiple sites, that Cybex equipment is able to measure the strength of specific muscles and joints in a more controlled manner than is the standard.

Again, I have not found this information verbatim, but it’s what I’ve been able to put together through various sources.

How It’s Assessed
I was able to find the following useful chunk of information on how Cybex Tests are analyzed:

“The purpose of this rating scale is to assist in analysis of a graded Cybex test report. This scale should be used by Athletic Trainers, Physical Therapists, Sportsmedicine Physicians and their athletes to determine strength and deficiency in involved hamstrings. This is important in rehabilitation to show regression and progression. This scale could be a major factor in determining return to play or activity. Also, this scale could be used to predict potential pathology.

The rating scale was conceived based on Cybex isokinetic test reports located in the Esby Training Room. Analysis of Cybex test reports requires experience with exercise physiology, rehabilitation, and biomechanics, of the lower extremity.

The data used to rate strength and deficiency are in peak torque (FtLbs) ratio of hamstrings to quadriceps. It is to be understood that in ambulation, the hamstrings deccelerate the powerful quadriceps and in order to do this efficiently, The hamstrings must produce 50% of the torque produced by the quadriceps. If the hamstrings can not do produce this 50%, there is potential for injury or further injury to the entire lower extremity. If the hamstrings are producing >75% of the quadriceps torque, you must suspect involvement of the quadriceps.”

This confirmed my thought from my initial search that the technology, thus far, was largely geared towards lower-body analysis. What is clear is that the Cybex Testing scores the hamstrings in terms of a percentage of strength of the quadriceps, and this relationship is a fairly useful determinant in the prediction of injury and the analysis of injury recovery. Using the ratio determined by the testing, the Cybex test can determine whether the quadriceps are too strong or too weak compared to the hamstrings, identifying possible areas of weakness or injury.

The testing isn’t limited to this type (there are tests for muscle spasticity and flexibility as well, among others I’m sure).

Notes From Studies
I was able to look at a few studies as well and, while I didn’t want to shell out the money to read the entirety of the studies, I got a few nuggets from the studies that are worth noting.

*This study determined that the Cybex “pendulum test” was reliable and, “The relative angle of reversal did not differ significantly between trials… Because the test variability was not significant and because the correlation between trials was high, the test may merit broader application to patients with intracranial lesions.”

*There is some concern regarding the safety of the tests, specifically with those recovering from ACL injuries. This study determined the relative safety of Cybext testing on the knee, stating, “Repeated measures analysis of variance did not show a significant exercise effect, interaction be tween type of exercise and time interval, or change after Cybex testing for the reconstructed knee displace ment, the contralateral knee displacement, or side-to- side difference. The average difference before and after Cybex testing was 0.1 mm for the reconstructed knee. In conclusion, a single Cybex test, performed at least 6 months after surgery, did not affect anterior tibial displacement in this study sample.”

*This study was way over my head at quick glance, but it appears Cybex testing can also be useful in concert with muscle biopsy in distinguishing between muscle fibers and studying them further.

Okay, so without reading the studies in great detail, I admit we can’t gain a whole lot more than the abstract quotes above. I think the lesson from these might be that professionals still haven’t discovered the range and potential of Cybex testing….or that searching for Cybex testing is missing the forest for the trees, since there may be an entire class of testing like this under a name that is not Cybex. Shhh, let’s ignore this and focus on point number one in this section, which is what I believe the Korver article was referring to.

Obviously, methodology like this would have a great deal of potential for the sports industry. The possibilities, I believe, are at least threefold:

*Providing teams another means by which to evaluate the health of players before investing significant resources in them, e.g. times like pre-draft and free agency.

*Providing team physicians and trainers with a measurable point at which players can return from injury, while also providing a means of measuring overall physical health and an aide with which to plan and provide feedback during the course of rehabilitation.

*Identifying injuries before the point of ‘injury,’ that is, determining a player is at risk based on the same patterns that are apparent in those recovering from injury. While this may be a significant investment, a preventitive measure could be extremely useful as a guideline for team trainers trying to manage the aches and pains of an entire season while avoiding major injury time.

Cybex testing is (in my opinion, anyway) an interesting area worth watching over the next few years. It’s apparence in the NFL Draft Combine and now in the NBA is a positive sign, though admittedly someone with more knowledge and access than myself would need to delve into this topic further to make any concrete suggestions or predictions for the technology.

At the time of publishing, Cybex International had not returned an e-mail requesting more information. Not a knock on them, just trying to further clear up that this was entirely based on researching the internet, not the word of the company.