ASB clinical biomechanics award winner 2016: Assessment of gaze stability within 24–48 hours post-concussion

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Abstract

Background

Approximately 90% of athletes with concussion experience a certain degree of visual system dysfunction immediately post-concussion. Of these abnormalities, gaze stability deficits are denoted as among the most common. Little research quantitatively explores these variables post-concussion. As such, the purpose of this study was to investigate and compare gaze stability between a control group of healthy non-injured athletes and a group of athletes with concussions 24–48 hours post-injury.

Methods

Ten collegiate NCAA Division I athletes with concussions and ten healthy control collegiate athletes completed two trials of a sport-like antisaccade postural control task, the Wii Fit Soccer Heading Game. During play all participants were instructed to minimize gaze deviations away from a central fixed area. Athletes with concussions were assessed within 24–48 post-concussion while healthy control data were collected during pre-season athletic screening. Raw ocular point of gaze coordinates were tracked with a monocular eye tracking device (240 Hz) and motion capture during the postural task to determine the instantaneous gaze coordinates. This data was exported and analyzed using a custom algorithm. Independent t-tests analyzed gaze resultant distance, prosaccade errors, mean vertical velocity, and mean horizontal velocity.

Findings

Athletes with concussions had significantly greater gaze resultant distance (p = 0.006), prosaccade errors (p < 0.001), and horizontal velocity (p = 0.029) when compared to healthy controls.

Interpretation

These data suggest that athletes with concussions had less control of gaze during play of the Wii Fit Soccer Heading Game. This could indicate a gaze stability deficit via potentially reduced cortical inhibition that is present within 24–48 hours post-concussion.

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