Detection of Acute and Long-Term Effects of Concussion: Dual-Task Gait Balance Control Versus Computerized Neurocognitive Test

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2019 Jan;


Howell, D. R., L. R. Osternig and L. S. Chou.


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OBJECTIVE: To examine the acute (within 72h of injury) and long-term (2mo postinjury) independent associations between objective dual-task gait balance and neurocognitive measurements among adolescents and young adults with a concussion and matched controls. DESIGN: Longitudinal case-control. SETTING: Motion analysis laboratory. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 95 participants completed the study: 51 who sustained a concussion (mean age, 17.5+/-3.3y; 71% men) and 44 controls (mean age, 17.7+/-2.9y; 72% men). Participants who sustained a concussion underwent a dual-task gait analysis and computerized neurocognitive testing within 72 hours of injury and again 2 months later. Uninjured controls also completed the same test protocol in similar time increments. INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: We compared dual-task gait balance control and computerized neurocognitive test performance between groups using independent samples t tests. Multivariable binary logistic regression models were then constructed for each testing time to determine the association between group membership (concussion vs control), dual-task gait balance control, and neurocognitive function. RESULTS: Medial-lateral center-of-mass displacement during dual-task gait was independently associated with group membership at the initial test (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.432; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.269-4.661) and 2-month follow-up test (aOR, 1.817; 95% CI, 1.014-3.256) tests. Visual memory composite scores were significantly associated with group membership at the initial hour postinjury time point (aOR, .953; 95% CI, .833-.998). However, the combination of computerized neurocognitive test variables did not predict dual-task gait balance control for participants with concussion, and no single neurocognitive variable was associated with dual-task gait balance control at either testing time. CONCLUSIONS: Dual-task assessments concurrently evaluating gait and cognitive performance may allow for the detection of persistent deficits beyond those detected by computerized neurocognitive deficits alone.

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