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Postural Stability Assessment Following Concussion: One Piece of the Puzzle

Guskiewicz, Kevin M. PhD

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: July 2001 - Volume 11 - Issue 3 - p 182-189
Thematic Articles

Clinicians regularly assess concussion according to the symptoms that an athlete manifests at the time of injury, as well as during subsequent evaluations. The subjectivity involved with symptom assessment, however, often leaves the clinician without a clear picture of the athlete's true mental status. Neuropsychologic testing has become very popular in the sports medicine community for assessing the cognitive domain of neurologic functioning, and postural stability testing is gaining credence for assessing the motor domain. The objective of this review was to determine the efficacy of postural stability testing as an adjunct to concussion assessment of athletes. Multiple studies, using both sophisticated force plate technology, as well as those using less sophisticated clinical balance tests, have identified postural stability deficits lasting several days following sport-related concussion. It appears that postural stability testing provides a useful tool for objectively assessing the motor domain of neurologic functioning, and should be considered a reliable and valid adjunct to the assessment of athletes suffering from concussion. Although symptom severity, neurocognitive function, and postural stability are often affected initially following concussion, they are not necessarily related or even affected to the same degree.

Department of Exercise and Sport Science and Department of Orthopaedics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S.A.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Kevin M. Guskiewicz, PhD, Sports Medicine Research Laboratory, 211 Fetzer CB-8700, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599–8700, U.S.A. E-mail: gus@email.unc.edu

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.