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Combine test could provide red flag for injuries

by Mike G. Morreale

TORONTO -- The top prospects invited to the 2013 NHL Scouting Combine will have a new element to deal with this year during their weeklong evaluation in Toronto.

NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr told that players will undergo a medical screening examination prior to taking the fitness portion, which is scheduled May 31 and June 1.

The new element, called Functional Movement Screen (FMS), is a ranking and grading system in which players perform seven specific joint tests that document movement patterns. The test could help reveal imbalances and symmetry deficiencies in the various fundamental movement patterns of the body.

"If there's a range imbalance or if one side of the body is stronger or weaker than the other, this test will help determine that," Marr said. "A majority of NHL teams utilize FMS in some form, and the NFL has been performing this screening as part of the medical process for their combine for a number of years.

Functional Movement Screen points

TORONTO -- Here are more details on NHL Central Scouting's newest element for the NHL Scouting Combine, the Functional Movement Screening (FMS) test, which will be administered to prospects for the first time this year:

-- FMS is a rating/grading system that documents movement patterns to identify functional limitations and asymmetries.

-- FMS has been around a little longer than a decade. Approximately 18 NHL teams utilize FMS in some format. It has been part of the NFL Scouting Combine for the past six years. 

-- Players are put through seven stations and graded on a 1-3 scale. There is a science to the screening with documented history which shows that a player scoring 14 out of 21 has a 75-percent likelihood to incur a muscular or joint injury.

-- FMS scores are indicators that if an athlete continues on his current training path without correction he's at higher risk of injury. Strength coaches are able to use the FMS scores to establish corrective exercises for the athlete to achieve mechanically sound movement patterns. It also creates a "functional baseline" to mark progress and can be used as part of a "return to play" protocol for injured players.

-- For purposes of the NHL Scouting Combine, the FMS will scan players for range of movement limitations and asymmetries which may correlate with a player's injury history and indicate further medical assessment is recommended or a corrective exercise program is required.

-- FMS has been part of the York Fitness program for 10 years and their assessors have been recertified for the NHL Scouting Combine. An NHL trainer and strength coach also will observe and review the FMS scans and report significant findings to the Combine medical staff.

-- Source: NHL Central Scouting

"This is something you ideally want to do prior to the medical examinations so that the FMS results can be screened and provided to the doctors before the player is examined."

Roni Jamnik, an associate professor at York University in Toronto, will be one of the individuals administering the new screening exam.

"It takes about 15 minutes to complete and I refer to it as a screen and not a test, where we're looking at the body alignment by having the athletes do common movements that challenge the body," Jamnik told "These screenings could bring out some symmetric deficiencies that could be problematic down the road.

"I believe the information gained from this screening is best suited in the hands of the trainers that oversee the conditioning of the people for NHL teams."

Marr attended the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis earlier this year and said he spent a lot of time observing the Atlanta Falcons' training staff, which administers the FMS for the league. The FMS has been administered to athletes for the past 16 years.

"[Montreal Canadiens scouting director] Trevor Timmins suggested the NHL consider FMS testing to see if we could incorporate it into our Combine," Marr said. "It doesn't necessarily pinpoint an injury; rather, it can indicate the potential or need for further examination and that's just as, if not more, important."

The test will be administered by York Fitness, which is headed by Dr. Norm Gledhill, a professor of kinesiology at York University. The FMS test, which includes a deep squat, hurdle step, lunges, shoulder mobility movements, leg raises and trunk stability pushups, likely will be held May 29-30, prior to the medical and fitness tests, which will be conducted May 31 and June 1.

Each movement is scored on a scale of 0-3, with a highest possible total score of 21. Research shows that a score of less than 14 might indicate a risk of future injury. Jamnik said a slight deviation in a movement likely would force the screener to give that athlete a score of 2.

"The screening won't necessarily predict that a person will have an injury, but it could provide a red flag for a potential problem," Jamnik said.

Jamnik said there is no way of preparing or practicing for the screen test.

"You can practice the movements all you want, but if you can't do it properly, you'll just continue to do it incorrectly," she said. "If you have a deficiency, it's there until you actually do the corrective exercises with professional trainers or physicians."


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