Objectives: To examine neurocognitive and balance performance in recreational athletes, prior to and following a dual-task training intervention compared to single-task controls in order to assess the utility and feasibility of these interventions in the clinical setting.
Design: Controlled laboratory study.
Methods: Thirty healthy, physically active recreational athletes (dual-task group = 15; single-task group = 15; age: 20.3 ± 1.9 years) completed neurocognitive and balance assessments before and after a four-week intervention. Sensory Organization Test composite score and ratio scores, Balance Error Scoring System total score, and nine CNS Vital Signs composite scores served as outcome measures. Mixed model analyses of variance were used to examine each measure.
Results: The single-task group showed greater improvement for complex attention (F1,26 = 5.48, p = .027) following the training period. Both groups improved their performance on the complex attention domain (F1,26 = 6.73, p = .015), the Balance Error Scoring System score (F1,26 = 42.34, p < .001), and the Sensory Organization Test vestibular ratio score (F1,28 = 6.55, p = .016) following the intervention.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest combining cognitive and balance tasks as performed does not provide additional benefit to performing these tasks independently among healthy individuals, but appear to be feasible in this setting. Future research should examine integration of single-task and dual-task exercises for concussed patients.
Keywords: Brain injury; Paradigm; Postconcussion syndrome; Recovery.
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