Previous mild traumatic brain injury and postural-control dynamics

J Athl Train. Jan-Feb 2011;46(1):85-91. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-46.1.85.


Context: Postural control and cognitive function are adversely affected by acute mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Whether postural-control deficits persist beyond the acute stage in individuals with a history of mTBI is unclear.

Objective: To determine if postural-control deficits persist in individuals with a history of mTBI.

Design: Retrospective cross-sectional study.

Setting: University research laboratory.

Patients or other participants: As part of an ongoing investigation examining cognitive and motor deficits associated with mTBI, 224 individuals participated in the study. Of these, 62 participants self-reported at least 1 previous physician-diagnosed mTBI.

Intervention(s): Postural control was assessed using the NeuroCom Sensory Organization Test (SOT) postural-assessment battery.

Main outcome measure(s): The SOT postural assessment yields 4 indices of postural control: a composite balance score, a visual ratio score, a somatosensory score, and a vestibular score. Postural dynamics were also examined by calculating approximate entropy of center-of-pressure excursions in the anteroposterior and mediolateral axis for each test condition.

Results: Minimal differences in the SOT indices were noted among individuals with and without a history of previous mTBI (P > .05). In the group with a history of mTBI, anteroposterior postural irregularity decreased as postural difficulty increased. In contrast, the group without a history of mTBI displayed increased postural irregularity in the mediolateral direction.

Conclusions: Individuals with a history of mTBI exhibited altered postural dynamics compared with individuals without a history of mTBI. These findings support the notion that changes in cerebral functioning that affect postural control may persist long after acute injury resolution.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Concussion*
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome* / complications
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome* / physiopathology
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Posture
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time
  • Young Adult