Approximately seventy-six percent of individuals with a sport-related concussion present with reduced balance. Current Return-to-Play (RTP) protocols rely heavily on measures of static balance that are not environmentally relevant. However, due to the variable nature of symptom presentation, research has not clearly defined a requisite time for balance recovery following a sport-related concussion. The use of novel procedures such as monitoring postural control during an environmentally relevant dynamic balance tasks could refine the timeline for recovery of postural control and aid in mitigating the potential severe consequences of Second Impact Syndrome. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate changes in postural control during a traditional quiet stance balance task and an environmentally relevant dynamic balance task during one week of recovery in athletes with concussions. Eleven collegiate athletes with concussions and twenty healthy collegiate athletes completed a static balance assessment and an experimental environmentally relevant balance assessment, the WiiFit Soccer Heading Game, during a one week of recovery period from a sport-related concussion. Peak CoP Velocity in the anteroposterior (A/P) and mediolateral (M/L) directions were calculated during quiet stance (eyes open and eyes closed) and the WiiFit Soccer Heading Game. Mixed model ANOVAs (2 groups x 2 assessment periods) ascertained significant differences in the quiet stance eyes closed A/P direction, and in the environmentally relevant balance task in the A/P and M/L directions between the concussion and healthy athletes during eight days of recovery. As such, athletes with concussions are more unstable when compared to healthy athletes 24-48 hours post-injury and up to eight days of recovery. In addition, the WiiFit Soccer Heading game is a game-like balance assessment that is more challenging and more sensitive in observing balance impairment in athletes with concussions over time when compared to traditional measures. Further research is needed to ascertain if and when dynamic balance recovers alongside traditional static measures.
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