Association of Subclinical Neck Pain With Altered Multisensory Integration at Baseline and 4-Week Follow-up Relative to Asymptomatic Controls

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Abstract

Objective:

The purpose of this study was to test whether people with subclinical neck pain (SCNP) had altered visual, auditory, and multisensory response times, and whether these findings were consistent over time.

Methods:

Twenty-five volunteers (12 SCNP and 13 asymptomatic controls) were recruited from a Canadian university student population. A 2-alternative forced-choice discrimination task with multisensory redundancy was used to measure response times to the presentation of visual (color filled circles), auditory (verbalization of the color words, eg, red or blue), and multisensory (simultaneous audiovisual) stimuli at baseline and 4 weeks later.

Results:

The SCNP group was slower at both visual and multisensory tasks (P = .046, P = .020, respectively), with no change over 4 weeks. Auditory response times improved slightly but significantly after 4 weeks (P = .050) with no group difference.

Conclusions:

This is the first study to report that people with SCNP have slower visual and multisensory response times than asymptomatic individuals. These differences persist over 4 weeks, suggesting that the multisensory technique is reliable and that these differences in the SCNP group do not improve on their own in the absence of treatment.

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