Objective The purpose of this study was to determine the extent of postural control deficits accompanying concussions in Division I collegiate athletes within 48 hours of injury.
Design Cross-sectional study.
Setting University Athletic Training Department & Biomechanics Laboratory.
Participants Preseason baseline balance testing of 519 healthy Division I college athletes was performed with the BTrackS Balance Test (San Diego, CA). Of the baselined athletes, 26 (18–23 years; 14 females) experienced a concussion during the ensuing sport season. Post-injury balance testing was performed on these concussed athletes within 48 hours of injury. Additionally, 20 healthy young adults (19–25 years; 10 females) were baselined on 2 sessions 7 days apart.
Outcome measures All testing consisted of three 20s trials of quiet unperturbed standing with eyes closed; feet shoulder width apart and hands on the hips. We calculated total centre of pressure (COP), COP antero-posterior (AP), and COP medio-lateral (ML) sway displacements. A principle component analysis was used to calculate the 99% confidence intervals (CI) of the COP area.
Main results There were no preseason baseline differences in any of the balance measures between athletes and controls. However, postural displacement in all directions (AP, ML, and Total) increased significantly in athletes post-injury. Furthermore, ~80% of the increase in COP excursions was accounted for by a ~7 fold increase in the COP area post-injury.
Conclusions Our findings are indicative of a decrease in postural control and multisensory integration post-concussion. Future studies should investigate the long-term effects and recovery from concussions in athletes.
Competing interests One author (Goble) holds an equity stake in the parent company for the BTrackS Balance Plate. This conflict of interest was strictly managed by San Diego State University through a mitigation plan that limits his involvement in all primary aspects of data collection and analysis. All other authors have no conflict of interest to declare.
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