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Article Title

EFFECT OF COVID-19 AND COGNITIVE LOADING ON STATIC AND DYNAMIC BALANCE IN YOUNG ADULTS

Abstract

D. Scallen, B. Cronk, M. Kempton, I. Johnson, C. Wutzke

Gonzaga University

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease that targets the respiratory system and is caused by the SARS-CoV2 virus. COVID-19 has an extremely high transmission rate and has been shown to influence different aspects of the body although little is known regarding the neuromuscular effects of COVID-19. Purpose: To determine the effect COVID-19 on dynamic and static balance with and without cognitive loading in college-aged adults. Methods: 14 subjects (seven with a previous COVID-19 diagnosis and seven without a history of COVID-19) completed both static and dynamic balance tests. All tests included trials that included a neuropsychological assessment to increase cognitive load. Static balance was assessed with subjects standing on a single foot on a force platform. Dynamic balance was assessed using the Four-Square Step test, the Star Excursion Balance Test, and 10-meter walk test. Data was analyzed using mixed-model analysis of variance with within-subject (cognitive loading) and between-subject (COVID-19 diagnosis) measures. Significance level was determined a-priori at pResults: Previous COVID-19 diagnosis alone had no influence on static or dynamic measures of balance. An interaction effect of COVID-19 and cognitive load was present static balance performance (p=0.029) and during the SEBT (p=0.043). An interaction effect approached significance in the 4-square test (p=0.065). 10m walk times were longer (10.06s ± 1.10s) when cognitively loaded than unloaded (9.27s ± 1.08s; p=0.003) in subjects without a history of COVID-19 diagnosis. Time to complete the 10m walk test when cognitively loaded (9.78s ± 1.23s) was longer than cognitively unloaded (9.22s ± 1.14s) in subjects with a prior COVID-19 diagnosis. Conclusion: The interaction of COVID-19 diagnosis and cognitive load suggests that although individuals with a history COVID-19 may maintain balance similarly to individuals without previous COVID-19 diagnosis; increased attentional demand associated with cognitive loading may result in increased challenges to dynamic balance.

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