Quantification of postural control deficits in patients with recent concussion: An inertial-sensor based approach

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Abstract

Background:

The aim of this study was to quantify postural control ability in a group with concussion compared with a healthy control group.

Method:

Fifteen concussion patients (4 females, 11 males) and a group of fifteen age- and sex-matched controls were recruited. Participants were tested during the performance of the three stance variants (bilateral, tandem and unilateral) of the balance error scoring system standing on a force place, while wearing an inertial measurement unit placed at the posterior aspect of the sacrum.

Findings:

The area of postural sway was computed using the force-plate and the ‘95% ellipsoid volume of sway’ was computed from the accelerometer data. Concussed patients exhibited increased sway area (1513 mm2 [95% CI: 935 to 2091 mm2] vs 646 mm2 [95% CI: 519 to 772 mm2]; p = 0.02) and sway volume (9.46 m3 s− 6 [95% CI: 8.02 to 19.94 m3 s− 6] vs 2.68 m3 s− 6 [95% CI: 1.81 to 3.55 m3 s− 6]; p = 0.01) in the bilateral stance position of the balance error scoring system. The sway volume metric also had excellent accuracy in identifying task ‘errors’ (tandem stance: 91% accuracy [95% CI: 85–96%], p < 0.001; unilateral stance: 91% accuracy [95% CI: 86–96%], p < 0.001).

Interpretation:

Individuals with concussion display increased postural sway during bilateral stance. The sway volume that was calculated from the accelerometer data not only differentiated a group with concussion from a healthy control group, but successfully identified when task errors had occurred. This may be of value in the development of a pitch-side assessment system for concussion.

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