Neuromotor dysfunction after a concussion is common, but balance tests used to assess neuromotor dysfunction are typically subjective. Current objective balance tests are either cost- or space-prohibitive, or utilize a static balance protocol, which may mask neuromotor dysfunction due to the simplicity of the task. To address this gap, our team developed an Android-based smartphone app (portable and cost-effective) that uses the sensors in the device (objective) to record movement profiles during a stepping-in-place task (dynamic movement). The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which our custom smartphone app and protocol could discriminate neuromotor behavior between concussed and non-concussed participants. Data were collected at two university laboratories and two military sites. Participants included civilians and Service Members (N = 216) with and without a clinically diagnosed concussion. Kinematic and variability metrics were derived from a thigh angle time series while the participants completed a series of stepping-in-place tasks in three conditions: eyes open, eyes closed, and head shake. We observed that the standard deviation of the mean maximum angular velocity of the thigh was higher in the participants with a concussion history in the eyes closed and head shake conditions of the stepping-in-place task. Consistent with the optimal movement variability hypothesis, we showed that increased movement variability occurs in participants with a concussion history, for which our smartphone app and protocol were sensitive enough to capture.
Rhea, Christopher K.; Yamada, Masahiro; Kuznetsov, Nikita A.; Jakiela, Jason T.; LoJacono, Chanel T.; Ross, Scott E.; Haran, F. J.; Bailie, Jason M.; and Wright, W. Geoffrey, "Neuromotor Changes in Participants With a Concussion History Can Be Detected With a Custom Smartphone App" (2022). Moss-Magee Rehabilitation Papers. Paper 2.
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