Term of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Name

Master of Science, Kinesiology - Athletic Training Concentration

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology

Committee Chair

Jessica Mutchler

Committee Member 1

George Shaver

Committee Member 2

Ronald Snarr


Background: As recreational activities grow in popularity, there is a concurrent rise in musculoskeletal injury. Injury severity is determined through clinical evaluation and defined by a grading scale. Pain is included in the definition of each injury grade, despite the lack of any conclusive evidence relating injury severity and the associated pain. Additionally, previous studies report impairments in cognitive performance due to chronic and acute pain. The aim of this study is to determine the relationship between the perceived pain intensity and the clinically diagnosed severity of an acute musculoskeletal injury, and to determine if attentional capacity is influenced by the presence of acute pain.

Methods: This study was completed in two parts. Part one included sixteen recreationally active participants clinically diagnosed within 24 hours of an acute musculoskeletal injury. Of those, five participated in part two and were tested on attentional capacity. Participants were re-tested on all attentional tests when pain free. Pain intensity was measured with the Visual Analog Scale (VAS). Attention tasks included the Trail Making Test A (TMT-A), Trail Making Test B (TMT-B) and the D-KEFS Color Word Interference Test (CWIT). A Spearman’s Rho determined the relationship between grade of injury and pain intensity. The Wilcoxon signed-rank test determined correlations in attentional performance while in acute pain and once pain-free. Both statistical tests used an alpha level of p > 0.05 a priori.

Results: No significant relationship was found between grade of injury and pain intensity (p = 0.84). Participants had significantly improved performance on the CWIT-1 (p = 0.04) and CWIT-4 (p = 0.04) once pain-free. No significant difference was observed between acute pain and pain-free states for TMT-B (p = 0.07), CWIT-2 (p = 0.46), or CWIT-3 (p = 0.14).

Conclusion: Results from this study indicated pain intensity and injury severity are not related, and attentional impairments may be present in patients suffering from acute musculoskeletal injury.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material