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A Proposal for Complex Gait Evaluation Using Dual-Task Gait Termination Time

Rachel S. Johnson, Kendall H. Scott, and Robert C. Lynall

Context: Gait termination time (GTT) has been used to predict falls in older adults but has not been explored in the sport rehabilitation setting. The incorporation of a concurrent cognitive task as a complex measure of gait in this clinical population could lead to better health-related outcomes. Objective: To compare the effect of planned and unplanned gait termination with and without a concurrent cognitive task on reaction time (RT), gait velocity, and GTT. Design: Cross-sectional. Setting: Laboratory. Participants: Twenty young adults (females 60.0%, age 20.1 [0.9] y, height 169.5 [8.8] cm, mass 67.4 [10.8] kg). Intervention: Participants completed 6 planned and 6 unplanned gait termination trials on an instrumented gait mat with and without a cognitive task. Main Outcome Measures: The authors measured RT (s), gait velocity (m/s), GTT (s), and normalized GTT (s2/m). A 2 (motor) × 2 (cognitive) repeated-measures analysis of variance (α = .05) was used; significant interaction effects were explored using Bonferroni-corrected t tests (α < .008). Results: Participants walked more slowly during dual-task trials compared with single-task trials (F 1,19 = 4.401, P = .050). Participants walked significantly more slowly with a cognitive task during planned (P < .001, mean difference = −0.184 m/s, 95% CI, −0.256 to −0.111) and unplanned (P = .001, mean difference = −0.111 m/s, 95% CI, −0.173 to −0.050) gait termination. Participants walked significantly more slowly (P < .001, mean difference = −0.142 m/s, 95% CI, −0.210 to −0.075) when performing the most difficult task, unplanned termination with a cognitive task, than when performing the least difficult task, planned termination with no cognitive task. We observed a cognitive task main effect such that adding a cognitive task increased RT (F 1,19 = 16.375, P = .001, mean difference = −0.118 s, 95% CI, −0.178 to −0.057) and slowed normalized GTT (F 1,19 = 5.655, P = .028, mean difference = −0.167 s2/m, 95% CI, −0.314 to −0.020). Conclusions: Overall, participants displayed more conservative gait strategies and slower RT, normalized GTT, and gait velocity as task difficulty increased. More investigation is needed to truly understand the clinical meaningfulness of these measures in athletic injuries.

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Lower-Extremity Neuromuscular Function Following Concussion: A Preliminary Examination

Landon B. Lempke, Jarrod A. Call, Matthew C. Hoch, Julianne D. Schmidt, and Robert C. Lynall

Context: Neuromuscular function is altered acutely following concussion and theoretically linked to the subsequent postconcussion musculoskeletal injury risk. Existing research has only examined voluntary muscle activation, limiting mechanistic understanding. Therefore, our study aimed to examine voluntary and involuntary muscle activation between college-aged, concussed individuals when symptom-free and healthy matched controls. Design: Prospective, cross-sectional cohort laboratory study. Methods: Concussed and healthy participants (n = 24; 58% male, age: 19.3 [1.1] y, mass: 70.3 [16.4] kg, height: 177.3 [12.7] cm) completed the superimposed burst (SB) neuromuscular assessment on their dominant limb within 72 hours after self-reporting asymptomatic (22.4 [20.2] d postinjury). Unnormalized and bodyweight-normalized quadriceps maximal voluntary isometric contraction torque (in newton meters), unnormalized and bodyweight-normalized electrically stimulated SB torque, pain (numeric 1–10) during SB, and the central activation ratio (in percentage) were assessed via the SB. Parametric and nonparametric analyses, 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs), and Hedges g (parametric) and Spearman ρ (nonparametric) effect sizes were used to examine group differences (α = .05). Results: The maximal voluntary isometric contraction torque (concussed: 635.60 N·m [300.93] vs control: 556.27 N·m [182.46]; 95% CI, −131.36 to 290.02; P = .443; d = 0.33), SB torque (concussed: 203.22 N·m [97.17], control: 262.85 N·m [159.07]; 95% CI, −171.22 to 51.97; P = .280; d = −0.47), and central activation ratio (concussed: 72.16% [17.16], control: 70.09% [12.63]; 95% CI, −10.68 to 14.83; P = .740; d = 0.14) did not differ between the concussed and control groups regardless of bodyweight normalization (P ≥ .344). Pain during the SB was significantly higher with a medium effect for participants with a concussion versus healthy controls (concussed: median = 7, control: median = 5; P = .046; ρ = −0.42). Discussion: These findings suggest concussed participants do not have statistically altered voluntary or involuntary quadricep neuromuscular function once asymptomatic compared with controls. Therefore, the elevated postconcussion musculoskeletal injury risk may not be attributed to lower-extremity muscle activation. Concussed participants displayed greater pain perception during the SB, which suggests somatosensory or perception changes requiring further examination.

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Single-Leg Hop Stabilization Throughout Concussion Recovery: A Preliminary Biomechanical Assessment

Landon B. Lempke, Matthew C. Hoch, Jarrod A. Call, Julianne D. Schmidt, and Robert C. Lynall

Context: Aberrant movement patterns among individuals with concussion history have been reported during sport-related movement. However, the acute postconcussion kinematic and kinetic biomechanical movement patterns during a rapid acceleration–deceleration task have not been profiled and leaves their progressive trajectory unknown. Our study aimed to examine single-leg hop stabilization kinematics and kinetics between concussed and healthy-matched controls acutely (≤7 d) and when asymptomatic (≤72 h of symptom resolution). Design: Prospective, cohort laboratory study. Methods: Ten concussed (60% male; 19.2 [0.9] y; 178.7 [14.0] cm; 71.3 [18.0] kg) and 10 matched controls (60% male; 19.5 [1.2] y; 176.1 [12.6] cm; 71.0 [17.0] kg) completed the single-leg hop stabilization task under single and dual task (subtracting by 6’s or 7’s) at both time points. Participants stood on a 30-cm tall box set 50% of their height behind force plates while in an athletic stance. A synchronized light was illuminated randomly, queuing participants to initiate the movement as rapidly as possible. Participants then jumped forward, landed on their nondominant leg, and were instructed to reach and maintain stabilization as fast as possible upon ground contact. We used 2 (group) × 2 (time) mixed-model analyses of variance to compare single-leg hop stabilization outcomes separately during single and dual task. Results: We observed a significant main group effect for single-task ankle plantarflexion moment, with greater normalized torque (mean difference = 0.03 N·m/body weight; P = .048, g = 1.18) for concussed individuals across time points. A significant interaction effect for single-task reaction time indicated that concussed individuals had slower performance acutely relative to asymptomatic (mean difference = 0.09 s; P = .015, g = 0.64), while control group performance was stable. No other main or interaction effects for single-leg hop stabilization task metrics were present during single and dual task (P ≥ .051). Conclusions: Greater ankle plantarflexion torque coupled with slower reaction time may indicate stiff, conservative single-leg hop stabilization performance acutely following concussion. Our findings shed preliminary light on the recovery trajectories of biomechanical alterations following concussion and provide specific kinematic and kinetic focal points for future research.

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Single- Versus Dual-Task Functional Movement Paradigms: A Biomechanical Analysis

Landon B. Lempke, Jeonghoon Oh, Rachel S. Johnson, Julianne D. Schmidt, and Robert C. Lynall

Context: Laboratory-based movement assessments are commonly performed without cognitive stimuli (ie, single-task) despite the simultaneous cognitive processing and movement (ie, dual task) demands required during sport. Cognitive loading may critically alter human movement and be an important consideration for truly assessing functional movement and understanding injury risk in the laboratory, but limited investigations exist. Objective: To comprehensively examine and compare kinematics and kinetics between single- and dual-task functional movement among healthy participants while controlling for sex. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Laboratory. Patients (or Other Participants): Forty-one healthy, physically active participants (49% female; 22.5 ± 2.1 y; 172.5 ± 11.9 cm; 71.0 ± 13.7 kg) enrolled in and completed the study. Intervention(s): All participants completed the functional movement protocol under single- and dual-task (subtracting by 6s or 7s) conditions in a randomized order. Participants jumped forward from a 30-cm tall box and performed (1) maximum vertical jump landings and (2) dominant and (3) nondominant leg, single-leg 45° cuts after landing. Main Outcome Measures: The authors used mixed-model analysis of variances (α = .05) to compare peak hip, knee, and ankle joint angles (degrees) and moments (N·m/BW) in the sagittal and frontal planes, and peak vertical ground reaction force (N/BW) and vertical impulse (Ns/BW) between cognitive conditions and sex. Results: Dual-task resulted in greater peak vertical ground reaction force compared with single-task during jump landing (mean difference = 0.06 N/BW; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.01 to 0.12; P = .025) but less force during dominant leg cutting (mean difference = −0.08 N/BW; 95% CI, −0.14 to −0.02; P = .015). Less hip-flexion torque occurred during dual task than single task (mean difference = −0.09 N/BW; 95% CI, −0.17 to −0.02). No other outcomes were different between single and dual task (P ≥ .053). Conclusions: Slight, but potentially important, kinematic and kinetic differences were observed between single- and dual-task that may have implications for functional movement assessments and injury risk research. More research examining how various cognitive and movement tasks interact to alter functional movement among pathological populations is warranted before clinical implementation.

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Test–Retest Reliability of a Functional Reaction Time Assessment Battery

Robert C. Lynall, Rachel S. Johnson, Landon B. Lempke, and Julianne D. Schmidt

Context: Reaction time is commonly assessed postconcussion through a computerized neurocognitive battery. Although this measure is sensitive to postconcussion deficits, it is not clear if computerized reaction time reflects the dynamic reaction time necessary to compete effectively and safely during sporting activities. Functional reaction time assessments may be useful postconcussion, but reliability must be determined before clinical implementation. Objective: To determine the test–retest reliability of a functional reaction time assessment battery and to determine if reaction time improved between sessions. Design: Cohort. Setting: Laboratory. Participants: Forty-one participants (21 men and 20 women) completed 2 time points. Participants, on average, were 22.5 (2.1) years old, 72.5 (11.9) cm tall, had a mass of 71.0 (13.7) kg, and were mostly right leg and hand dominant (92.7%). Interventions: Participants completed 2 clinical reaction time tests (computerized Stroop and drop stick) and 5 functional reaction time tests (gait, jump landing, single-leg hop, anticipated cut, and unanticipated cut) across 2 sessions. Drop stick and functional reaction time assessments were performed in single (motor task only) and dual task (motor task with cognitive task). Main Outcome Measures: Reaction time (in seconds) was calculated during all assessments. Test–retest reliability was determined using 2-way mixed-effects intraclass correlation coefficients (3, k). Paired samples t tests compared mean reaction time between sessions. Results: Test–retest reliability was moderate to excellent for all reaction time outcomes (intraclass correlation coefficients [3, k] range = .766–.925). Several statistically significant between-session mean differences were observed, but effect sizes were negligible to small (d range = 0.05–0.44). Conclusions: The functional reaction time assessment battery displayed similar reliability to the standard computerized reaction time assessment battery and may provide important postinjury information, but more research is needed to determine clinical utility.