An Examination of Motor and Cognitive Recovery Following Concussion
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Cognitive and motor impairments have been identified as signs following a concussion which may compromise the performance of everyday tasks or physical activities. However, little work has been done in the adolescent population using laboratory based measurements of attention or balance control to identify recovery from concussion. Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation was to prospectively and longitudinally observe how individuals who have sustained a concussion recover on measures of attention and gait balance control in comparison to individually matched, healthy control subjects from within 72 hours of injury up to two months following injury. Individuals were identified as sustaining a concussion by healthcare professionals and began participation in the study within 72 hours of injury. They then returned to the laboratory at approximately 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, and 2 months post-injury. Control subjects were individually matched by sex, age, height, and weight and tested in similar time increments. Attentional abilities were measured via multiple computerized testing assessments, and gait balance control was measured with whole-body motion analysis. The results indicated that following concussion, adolescents display deficits in conflict resolution ability, task switching ability, and gait balance control during dual-task walking for a time period of up to two months following injury in comparison to a matched control group. During dual-task walking, the complexity of the cognitive task performed may affect adolescents with concussion to a greater degree than matched control subjects. Adolescents also displayed regressions to gait stability recovery following their return to physical activities. Finally, adolescents with concussion displayed greater gait balance control deficits than young adults with concussion throughout the two months of testing when each group was compared to a respective healthy control group. Results from this dissertation indicate that concussion affects cognitive and motor functions in adolescents, who display deficits throughout two months post-injury. Computerized attentional tests and dual-task dynamic balance control assessments represent a multifaceted approach to concussion management and may provide another assessment battery for healthcare professionals to utilize in order to identify recovery following concussion. This dissertation includes previously published/unpublished co-authored material.