Brittany Oppland, Kelsi Rempe & Dave P. Heller

Rockhurst University, Kansas City, Missouri

Previous research has indicated a direct correlation between concussion occurrence and increased postural sway variability. This variability has been shown to return to baseline values after an elapsed time of roughly 3-5 days. However, pilot data taken for this study may indicate a longer recovery timeline. PURPOSE: Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of time elapsed post-concussion on the variability in postural sway using a smartphone accelerometer app. METHODS: A total of 8 student athletes (4 post-concussion, 4 controls) were recruited. Time elapsed post-concussion was recorded via questionnaire. Subjects completed 17 randomized tasks combining standing on either tile or a foam pad in eyes closed, eyes opened, closed base, opened base, or tandem base stances for 20 seconds. A smartphone with an accelerometer app was attached to the small of their back and recorded the subject’s net three-dimensional acceleration. Variability in postural sway was quantified as the standard deviation of this net acceleration. RESULTS: While no significant differences in postural sway variability were found between subjects who had at least one concussion and controls (p>0.05), the variability of postural sway as measured by the mean standard deviation of acceleration over all conditions decreased with increasing time elapsed post-concussion (76 + 1 days post-concussion = 0.017 + 0.013 g, 4015 + 180 days post-concussion = 0.010 + 0.018 g). Log-transformed data showed a significant negative correlation (r = -0.979, pCONCLUSION:As has been shown previously, a significant decreasing trend in postural sway variability in concussion subjects was seen over time. Previous research indicates this variability returns to baseline values after an elapsed time of roughly 3-5 days. Pilot data taken for this study using a smartphone accelerometer app hinted at a longer return to baseline, possibly even as long as 6 months. Further research is needed to develop a comprehensive timeline of recovery from concussion events, particularly when an athlete is attempting to return to competition.

This study was partially supported by a Dean's Undergraduate Fellowship Grant from Rockhurst University.

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