Visuo-oculomotor Function and Reaction Times in Athletes with and without Concussion


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Abstract

SIGNIFICANCEOculomotor tests in concussion commonly show impairment in smooth pursuit and saccadic function. Honing in on the systems likely to be affected by concussion will streamline use of oculomotor function as a supplemental diagnostic and prognostic tool, as well as improve our understanding of the pathophysiology of concussion.PURPOSEThis study investigates oculomotor function between concussed and healthy collegiate athletes and determines measurement test-retest reliability of those tools.METHODSEighty-seven healthy athletes were recruited from a U.S. Division 1 sports university and completed a 30-minute vestibular ocular testing battery in an enclosed rotary chair system equipped with 100-Hz eye-tracking goggles. Forty-three individuals completed the battery twice. Twenty-eight individuals with a current diagnosis of concussion also completed the battery. All participants were aged 18 to 24 years. Bivariate statistical tests examined differences in scores across groups, and intraclass coefficients were computed to test reliability.RESULTSConcussed individuals had significantly longer saccadic, visual, and dual-task reaction times and reduced saccadic accuracy. There was no difference in optokinetic reflex gain, but few concussed individuals tolerated the task. Reaction time latencies and optokinetic gain show moderate test-retest reliability. Smooth pursuit tasks and saccadic accuracies showed poor test-retest reliability.CONCLUSIONSSaccadic latency was the most sensitive oculomotor function to change after concussion and was reliable over time. Saccadic accuracy was significantly lower in the concussed group but had poor retest reliability. Optokinetic gain may warrant more investigation because of its high test-retest reliability and symptom provocation in concussion, despite not showing a significant difference between groups.

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