Impairments in gait and balance function are typical after concussion. There is evidence that these neuromuscular deficits persist past the typical time of symptom resolution. The ability to quantify these changes in gait and balance may provide useful information when making return to play decisions in clinical settings.
Are changes in gait function and postural control evident across the course of a concussion management program?
A retrospective analysis of a convenience sample of 38 patients who were seen for concussion between October 2017 and May 2019 was performed. Gait and balance measures were assessed at their initial clinic visit post-injury and at their clearance visit using inertial measurement units. During dual-task walking trials, the medial-lateral motion of the center of mass and gait velocity were measured. Postural sway complexity and jerk index were measured during both eyes-open and eyes-closed balance trials.
Paired samples t-tests and Wilcoxon signed rank tests were used to determine whether statistically significant changes occurred for the gait and balance variables, respectively. Medial-lateral sway decreased (4.4 ± 1.3 cm to 4.0 ± 1.2 cm, p = 0.018) and gait velocity increased (0.78 ± 0.23 m/s to 0.91 ± 0.18 m/s, p < 0.001) from initial to clearance testing. Jerk index decreased (6.41 ± 11.06 m/s to 5.73 ± 4.28 m/s, p = 0.031) and (11.87 ± 26.42 m/s to 7.87 ± 8.38 m/s, p = 0.003) from initial to clearance testing for the eyes-open and eyes-closed conditions, respectively. Complexity index increased (2.38 ± 1.08-2.86 ± 0.72, p = 0.010) from initial to clearance testing for the eyes-closed condition. There was no change in complexity index for the eyes-open condition.
These preliminary results support the potential use of measures of gait and postural control to assess recovery following a concussion in a clinical setting.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.