The purpose of this study was to identify the rate of abnormal single-task and dual-task gait performance following concussion compared to uninjured controls using previously established normative reference values. The authors examined athletes with a concussion (n = 54; mean age = 20.3 [1.1] y, 46% female, tested 2.9 [1.5] d postinjury), and healthy controls were tested during their preseason baseline examination (n = 60; mean age = 18.9 [0.7] y, 37% female). Participants completed an instrumented single-/dual-task gait evaluation. Outcome variables included average walking speed, cadence, and step length. A significantly greater number of those with concussion walked with abnormal dual-task gait speed compared with the control group (56% vs 30%, P = .01). After adjusting for potential confounding variables (age, concussion history, symptom severity, and sleep), concussion was associated with lower dual-task gait speed (β = −0.150; 95% confidence interval [CI] = −0.252 to −0.047), cadence (β = −8.179; 95% CI = −14.49 to −1.871), and stride length (β = −0.109; 95% CI = −0.204 to −0.014). Although group analyses indicated that those with a concussion performed worse on single-task and dual-task gait compared with controls, a higher rate of abnormal gait was detected for the concussion group compared with the control group for dual-task gait speed only. Dual-task gait speed, therefore, may be considered as a measure to compare against normative values to detect postconcussion impairments.
David R. Howell, Thomas A. Buckley, Brant Berkstresser, Francis Wang, and William P. Meehan III
Michael W. Kirkwood, David R. Howell, Brian L. Brooks, Julie C. Wilson, and William P. Meehan III
While placebo effects are well recognized within clinical medicine, “nocebo effects” have received much less attention. Nocebo effects are problems caused by negative expectations derived from information or treatment provided during a clinical interaction. In this review, we examine how nocebo effects may arise following pediatric concussion and how they may worsen symptoms or prolong recovery. We offer several suggestions to prevent, lessen, or eliminate such effects. We provide recommendations for clinicians in the following areas: terminology selection, explicit and implicit messaging to patients, evidence-based recommendations, and awareness of potential biases during clinical interactions. Clinicians should consider the empirically grounded suggestions when approaching the care of pediatric patients with concussion.
Noah X. Tocci, David R. Howell, Dai Sugimoto, Corey Dawkins, Amy Whited, and Donald Bae
High elbow torque during a pitch may contribute to injury risk. Our objective was to determine the pitch mechanics associated with elbow varus torque in youth baseball pitchers. Eighteen male youth pitchers (age = 15.5 ± 1.6 years) threw 3 fastballs and 3 change-ups from a windup position while undergoing 3-dimensional kinematic analysis. Independent variables included ball release point distance, stride length, lateral pelvic tilt, and ball velocity. Two multiple regression models, separated by pitch type (fastball, change-up) were used to determine the association of independent variables with peak varus torque at the elbow. Fastball and change-up regression models indicated that stride length (β = 0.301, p = .015; β = 0.46, p < .001, respectively) and lateral pelvic tilt (β = −0.50, p < .001; β = −0.25, p = .04, respectively) were significantly associated with peak elbow varus torque. During fastballs, pitch velocity was significantly associated with peak elbow varus torque (β = 0.38, p = .002), while release point distance was significantly associated with peak elbow varus torque during change-ups (β = −0.33, p = .015). Youth pitchers with longer strides and less lateral pelvic tilt demonstrated greater elbow torque regardless of pitch type, while the association of ball velocity and release point to elbow varus torque was dependent on pitch type.
Lauren A. Brown, Eric E. Hall, Caroline J. Ketcham, Kirtida Patel, Thomas A. Buckley, David R. Howell, and Srikant Vallabhajosula
Context: Sports often involve complex movement patterns, such as turning. Although cognitive load effects on gait patterns are well known, little is known on how it affects biomechanics of turning gait among athletes. Such information could help evaluate how concussion affects turning gait required for daily living and sports. Objective: To determine the effect of a dual task on biomechanics of turning while walking among college athletes. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: University laboratory. Participants: Fifty-three participants performed 5 trials of a 20-m walk under single- and dual-task conditions at self-selected speed with a 180° turn at 10-m mark. The cognitive load included subtraction, spelling words backward, or reciting the months backward. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Turn duration, turning velocity, number of steps, SD of turn duration and velocity, and coefficient of variation of turn duration and velocity. Results: Participants turned significantly slower (155.99 [3.71] cm/s vs 183.52 [4.17] cm/s; P < .001) and took longer time to complete the turn (2.63 [0.05] s vs 2.33 [0.04] s; P < .001) while dual tasking, albeit taking similar number of steps to complete the turn. Participants also showed more variability in turning time under the dual-task condition (SD of turn duration = 0.39 vs 0.31 s; P = .004). Conclusions: Overall, college athletes turned slower and showed more variability during turning gait while performing a concurrent cognitive dual-task turning compared with single-task turning. The slower velocity increased variability may be representative of specific strategy of turning gait while dual tasking, which may be a result of the split attention to perform the cognitive task. The current study provides descriptive values of absolute and variability turning gait parameters for sports medicine personnel to use while they perform their concussion assessments on their college athletes.
David R. Howell, Corrine N. Seehusen, Mathew J. Wingerson, Julie C. Wilson, Robert C. Lynall, and Vipul Lugade
Our purpose was to investigate the reliability and minimal detectable change characteristics of a smartphone-based assessment of single- and dual-task gait and cognitive performance. Uninjured adolescent athletes (n = 17; mean age = 16.6, SD = 1.3 y; 47% female) completed assessments initially and again 4 weeks later. The authors collected data via an automated smartphone-based application while participants completed a series of tasks under (1) single-task cognitive, (2) single-task gait, and (3) dual-task cognitive-gait conditions. The cognitive task was a series of continuous auditory Stroop cues. Average gait speed was consistent between testing sessions in single-task (0.98, SD = 0.21 vs 0.96, SD = 0.19 m/s; P = .60; r = .89) and dual-task (0.92, SD = 0.22 vs 0.89, SD = 0.22 m/s; P = .37; r = .88) conditions. Response accuracy was moderately consistent between assessments in single-task standing (82.3% accurate, SD = 17.9% vs 84.6% accurate, SD = 20.1%; P = .64; r = .52) and dual-task gait (89.4% accurate, SD = 15.9% vs 85.8% accurate, SD = 20.2%; P = .23; r = .81) conditions. Our results indicate automated motor-cognitive dual-task outcomes obtained within a smartphone-based assessment are consistent across a 1-month period. Further research is required to understand how this assessment performs in the setting of sport-related concussion. Given the relative reliability of values obtained, a smartphone-based evaluation may be considered for use to evaluate changes across time among adolescents, postconcussion.
David R. Howell, Jessie R. Oldham, Melissa DiFabio, Srikant Vallabhajosula, Eric E. Hall, Caroline J. Ketcham, William P. Meehan III, and Thomas A. Buckley
Gait impairments have been documented following sport-related concussion. Whether preexisting gait pattern differences exist among athletes who participate in different sport classifications, however, remains unclear. Dual-task gait examinations probe the simultaneous performance of everyday tasks (ie, walking and thinking), and can quantify gait performance using inertial sensors. The purpose of this study was to compare the single-task and dual-task gait performance of collision/contact and noncontact athletes. A group of collegiate athletes (n = 265) were tested before their season at 3 institutions (mean age= 19.1 ± 1.1 years). All participants stood still (single-task standing) and walked while simultaneously completing a cognitive test (dual-task gait), and completed walking trials without the cognitive test (single-task gait). Spatial-temporal gait parameters were compared between collision/contact and noncontact athletes using MANCOVAs; cognitive task performance was compared using ANCOVAs. No significant single-task or dual-task gait differences were found between collision/contact and noncontact athletes. Noncontact athletes demonstrated higher cognitive task accuracy during single-task standing (P = .001) and dual-task gait conditions (P = .02) than collision/contact athletes. These data demonstrate the utility of a dual-task gait assessment outside of a laboratory and suggest that preinjury cognitive task performance during dual-tasks may differ between athletes of different sport classifications.