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Validation of a New Instrument for Evaluating Low Back Pain in the Young Athlete

d'Hemecourt, Pierre Allou MD*,†; Zurakowski, David PhD*; d'Hemecourt, Charles Allou BS*; Curtis, Christine BS*; Ugrinow, Valerie BS*; Deriu, Laura MD*; Micheli, Lyle Joseph MD*,†

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: May 2012 - Volume 22 - Issue 3 - p 244–248
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e318249a3ce
Original Research

Objective: To validate a back-specific instrument for functional assessment in the young athlete for clinical and research purposes, the Micheli Functional Scale (MFS).

Design: Prospective cohort study, Diagnostic Level II.

Setting: Division of Sports Medicine Clinic, Children's Hospital Boston.

Participants: Male and female patients aged 12 to 22 with and without low back pain.

Interventions: Patients presenting with back pain were compared with a control group of patients presenting with complaints other than back pain. Both groups were given the modified Oswestry Low Back Pain Disability Questionnaire (ODQ) and MFS.

Main Outcome Measures: Micheli Functional Scale and ODQ score correlations.

Results: A total of 94 patients were enrolled (44 patients with low back pain and 50 patients without low back pain). Ages ranged from 12 to 22 for both groups, with no differences in age (P = 0.07) or gender (P = 0.50). Patients with back pain had significantly higher ODQ scores (median, 32 points) and MFS scores (median, 47 points) compared with controls (median, 0 points; P < 0.0001). These results held for male and female patients and younger (12-16.99 years) and older (17-22 years) age groups. The Pearson correlation coefficient showed a high positive correlation between MFS scores and ODQ scores (Pearson r = 0.90, P < 0.0001). Cronbach level indicated excellent item reliability on the MFS (α = 0.904, P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: The MFS is a valid instrument for assessing pain and functional levels in the young athlete. This scale considers pain, athletic function, and athletic disability.

*Division of Sports Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, Massachusetts

Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Corresponding Author: Pierre Allou d'Hemecourt, MD, Division of Sports Medicine, Children's Hospital, Boston, 319 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115 (

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Received May 3, 2011

Accepted January 4, 2012

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.