Assessment of oculomotor control and balance post-concussion: A preliminary study for a novel approach to concussion management
Primary objective: Balance disturbances occur in ∼30% of concussion injuries, with vestibular dysfunction reported as the main contributor. However, few have studied oculomotor control post-concussion to assess vestibular dysfunction.
Research design: The current research measured the differences in oculomotor control between athletes post-concussion (PC) and athletes without concussion (NC) during an active balance control task.
Methods: Nine PC and nine NC athletes wore a monocular eye tracking device, while balance tests were performed using the Nintendo WiiFit® soccer heading game. Average game scores, eye deviations from centre (Gaze Deviations) and gaze fixation (Percentage Time on Centre) were measured.
Results: PC made significantly greater Gaze Deviations from centre compared to NC (p < 0.001), however Percentage Time on Centre and game scores were not significantly different between groups. Correlations between gaze and balance within groups revealed a significant positive correlation in NC, while a significant negative correlation in PC.
Conclusions: Results from this exploratory examination of oculomotor behaviour post-concussion revealed significant differences in gaze stability between athletes with a concussion and those without, suggesting vestibular involvement post-concussion. Assessment of oculomotor control during balance activities may provide further insight into dysfunction of the vestibular system following a concussion injury.