, Volume 35, Issue 11, pp 935-950
Date: 27 Nov 2012

A Nonlinear Dynamic Approach for Evaluating Postural Control

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Abstract

Recent research suggests that traditional biomechanical models of postural stability do not fully characterise the nonlinear properties of postural control. In sports medicine, this limitation is manifest in the postural steadiness assessment approach, which may not be sufficient for detecting the presence of subtle physiological change after injury. The limitation is especially relevant given that return-to-play decisions are being made based on assessment results. This update first reviews the theoretical foundation and limitations of the traditional postural stability paradigm. It then offers, using the clinical example of athletes recovering from cerebral concussion, an alternative theoretical proposition for measuring changes in postural control by applying a nonlinear dynamic measure known as ‘approximate entropy’. Approximate entropy shows promise as a valuable means of detecting previously unrecognised, subtle physiological changes after concussion. It is recommended as an important supplemental assessment tool for determining an athlete’s readiness to resume competitive activity.