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Depth perception differences in athletes reporting a concussion history
  1. Jason P Mihalik1,2,3,
  2. Erin B Wasserman1
  1. 1Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Centre, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, USA
  2. 2Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, USA
  3. 3Injury Prevention Research Centre, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, USA


Objective Vision testing is becoming more commonplace in concussion assessment. The purpose of our study was to determine vision domain deficits in athletes reporting a concussion history.

Design Cross-sectional.

Setting Clinical research centre.

Subjects High school and college student-athletes (n=224; 183 males) completed a multi-modal vision and sensory performance assessment.

Intervention Participants completed a valid and reliable visual performance evaluation (Nike SPARQ Sensory Station). Participants were categorised by self-reported concussion history: no history (n=158) vs. 1 or more concussions (n=66).

Outcome measures The Nike SPARQ Sensory Station measures visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, depth perception, near-far quickness, target capture, perception span, eye-hand coordination, go/no-go, and reaction time. We employed Wilcoxon two-sample nonparametric analyses comparing concussion history groups for each outcome.

Results Student-athletes with a concussion history (median=1553 ms) responded more slowly to primary gaze depth perception tasks than student-athletes with no concussion history (median=1363 ms; P=0.02). Left gaze depth perception also yielded significant differences between those with concussion history (median=1383 ms) and those without concussion history (median=1162 ms; P=0.03), but not right gaze depth perception (P=0.07). No other significant differences were observed (P>0.05).

Conclusions Depth perception is worse in student-athletes with concussion history, suggesting the eyes’ ability to work in tandem may be compromised following concussion. It is also possible that observed visual performance differences may have previously existed and subsequently placed those athletes at a higher risk for concussion. Future prospective studies should explore the predictive value of visual performance screening in reducing concussion risk.

Competing interests Wasserman – None.

Dr. Mihalik has an equity interest in Senaptec LLC, a licensee of the intellectual property employed in this study.

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