Date on Honors Thesis

Spring 5-2023


Exercise Science

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Brenda Reeves, Advisor

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Matthew Hermes, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Dr. D. Gage Jordan, Committee Member


Introduction: Proprioception is an important physiological function that is essential for activities of daily living as well as exercise and sport performance. Integration of proprioceptive signals plays a key role in both static and dynamic balance. Previously, researchers have assessed the relationship between balance and proprioception, however, the effect of cognitive perception of body awareness has not previously been included in this research. The aim of this pilot study was to explore the relationships among lower extremity proprioception, dynamic balance, and cognitive perception of body awareness in college students.

Methods: Nineteen apparently healthy college students (age 21.26 ± 1.10 years, 12 female, 7 male) were recruited to voluntarily participate in this pilot study. An online survey of body awareness, Limits of Stability Test on the Biodex Balance System, and the Lower Extremity Position Test (LEPT) were used to measure cognitive perception of body awareness, balance, and proprioception, respectively. In order to establish test-retest reliability, 9 participants were randomly selected to repeat the test of proprioception one week following the initial data collection.

Results: The LEPT yielded a questionable, but approaching acceptable, test-retest reliability (ɑ=.692). Balance and proprioception scores were moderately correlated (P=.031). Limb dominance had no significant impact on proprioception (P=.511). Previous dance and gymnastics experience had a medium effect size on balance performance (g=.502). Average LEPT error can reliably predict balance scores, accounting for 24.6% of the variance in scores (P=.026). Survey results were not related to balance (P=.188) or proprioception (P=.565) outcomes.

Conclusion: The results of this pilot study found that balance is correlated with proprioception, proprioceptive ability is able to predict balance competence, limb dominance does not have a significant impact on proprioceptive ability, and participation in dance and gymnastics may result in improved balance. The LEPT still requires further improvements, but may be an acceptable clinical tool with financial feasibility, ease of administration, and time efficiency for quantifying proprioceptive ability compared to tools of higher precision. Future research should explore the impact of including an educational familiarization trial, control for LEPT starting joint position with an initial knee angle of 90° flexion, and a neutral ankle position (90° angle between the foot and leg) and consider the influence of muscle activation using electromyography. The role of cognitive perception of body awareness should be researched to a greater extent in order to determine its influence on balance and proprioception.