, Volume 176, Issue 1, pp 23-31
Date: 07 Jul 2006

Cognitive task effects on gait stability following concussion

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The purpose of this study was to determine how two different types of concurrent tasks affect gait stability in patients with concussion and how balance is maintained. Fourteen individuals suffering from a grade II concussion and 14 matched controls performed a single task of level walking and two types of concurrent tasks during level walking: a discrete reaction time task and a continuous sequential question and answer task. Common gait spatial/temporal measurements, whole-body center of mass motion, and the center of pressure trajectory were recorded. Concussed individuals demonstrated differences in gait while performing single-task level walking and while being challenged with a more difficult secondary task compared to normal controls. Concussed individuals adopted a slower, more conservative gait strategy to maintain stability, but still exhibited signs of instability with center of mass deviations in the coronal plane increasing by 13% during the question and answer dual-task and 26% more than control subjects. Trends of attentional deficits were present with the question and answer task, while the reaction time task seemed to help concussed individuals be more alert to their gait and stability. Recommendations for a sensitive testing protocol of deficits following concussion are explained.