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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.

Open access

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.

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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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Maria K. Talarico, Robert C. Lynall, Timothy C. Mauntel, Erin B. Wasserman, Darin A. Padua, and Jason P. Mihalik

Although single-leg squats are a common dynamic balance clinical assessment, little is known about the relationship between parameters that influence squat movement and postural control performance. The objective of this study was to determine the relationships between squat parameters (speed and depth) and postural control under single task and dual task. A total of 30 healthy college students performed single-leg squats under single task and dual task with Stroop. Random-intercepts generalized linear mixed models determined the effect of squat parameters on center of pressure (CoP) parameters. For each 1-cm·s−1 increase in squat speed, sway range (mediolateral: β = −0.03; anteroposterior: β = −0.05) and area (β = −0.25) decreased, whereas sway speed (mediolateral: β = 0.05; anteroposterior: β = 0.29; total: β = 0.29) increased. For each 1-cm increase in squat depth, sway range (mediolateral: β = 0.05; anteroposterior: β = 0.20) and area (β = 0.72) increased, whereas sway speed (anteroposterior: β = −0.14; total: β = −0.14) decreased. Compared with single task, the association between total and anteroposterior sway speed and squat speed was stronger under dual task. Clinicians and researchers should consider monitoring squat speed and depth when assessing dynamic balance during single-leg squats, as these parameters influence postural control, especially under dual task.

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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.

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Jason P. Mihalik, Elizabeth F. Teel, Robert C. Lynall, and Erin B. Wasserman

In equipment-heavy sports, there is a growing need to evaluate players in the condition in which they participate. However, the psychometric properties of the Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) while wearing skates remains unknown. Seventy-four adolescent male hockey players completed the BESS with and without skates. A subset was reevaluated at the conclusion of the season. The BESS while wearing skates resulted in a mean of 15 more total errors than the traditional administration (t73 = 14.94, p < .001; ES = 1.95) and demonstrated low test-retest reliability. The BESS should be administered in the traditional manner (without skates).

Open access

Patricia R. Roby, Robert C. Lynall, Michael J. Cools, Stephen W. Marshall, Janna C. Fonseca, James R. Stevens, and Jason P. Mihalik

We report on hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) therapy used to improve postinjury outcomes in eight acutely concussed high school student-athletes (5 males, 3 females, mean age = 16.0 ± 1.2 years). Patients were randomly assigned into one of three intervention groups: (a) HBO2 therapy; (b) hyperbaric therapy with compressed medical-grade air (HBA); or (c) normobaric 100% O2 therapy. All patients completed five 1-hr treatments within the first 10 days following his or her concussion. Main outcome measures included mental status examination, symptom burden, and the number of days from injury until the physician permitted the student-athlete to return to activity. Patients receiving HBO2 treatment experienced the greatest absolute symptom reduction over the five treatment sessions. No meaningful differences were found in mental status examination. All participants returned to activity in a similar timeframe. HBO2 therapy may be an effective option for the acute treatment of postconcussion symptoms, particularly in young athletes presenting with a high symptom burden.