The purpose of this study was to use centre of pressure (COP) measurements to determine if static balance deficits had recovered when concussed athletes were cleared to return to play. Nine concussed varsity football players were matched with nine teammates who served as controls. Static balance in the anterior-posterior (A/P) and medial-lateral (M/L) directions was assessed during quiet stance with eyes open and eyes closed. Results showed that concussed football players displayed greater A/P COP displacements in the acute phase, which recovered by RTP; however, COP velocity remained elevated compared to controls even at RTP, particularly in the A/P direction. This balance control deficit in the A/P direction may suggest vestibular impairment, likely due to poor sensorimotor integration of the lateral vestibulospinal tract. The observed persistence of balance control deficits in concussed football players at RTP are usually undetected by traditional assessments because the current study used higher-order COP analysis. Future RTP balance measures may want to incorporate higher-order measures of balance.
Keywords: Centre of pressure; Concussion; Return-to-play; Static balance.
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