Awarded Grant Traumatic Injury Biomechanics


Description: Approximately 5.3 million Americans, a little more than 2% of the U.S. population, currently live with disabilities from traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Sports and physical activity provide significant exposures to TBI, with some 300,000 sports-related concussions or mild TBIs (MTBI) occurring each year in the United States. It has been reported that motor functions may recover more slowly than cognitive function or may not be closely related to standard neuropsychological assessments. Also, approximately one third of TBI patients complain of poor balance and poor coordination.

The overall goal of this project is to longitudinally quantify deficits in the maintenance of dynamic stability during locomotion and in sensory motor functions of individuals following a concussion and to establish recovery curves of these measurements from the time of injury. Sixty college men and women participating in intercollegiate, intramural, and club sport athletic activities at the University of Oregon will be recruited (30 concussion subjects and 30 controls). A biomechanical motion analysis will assess whole body dynamic stability during walking with various terrain and attention conditions, and a battery of sensory motor tests will examine the ability of several selected sensory motor functions and their contribution to the deficits during dynamic motor tasks. Concussion subjects will be tested at four times post-injury: within 48 hours, after 5 days, after 14 days, and after 28 days. The same number of testing times and durations will also be applied to control subjects. The specific aims of this project follow:

  1. Develop a biomechanical measuring system to quantitatively evaluate the dynamic balance control of concussion patients during gait;
  2. Understand the association between the cognitive function of concussion patients and their abilities to negotiate obstacles and maintain sideways stability;
  3. Characterize how specific visual, oculomotor, and attentional functions contribute to deficits in dynamic balance control during gait of concussion patients;
  4. Establish recovery curves based on measures of dynamic stability, sensory motor control, and neuropsychological function, and investigate the functional relations among these measures. The knowledge gained from this research will provide an objective and quantitative measurement of the residual impairment on dynamic motor functions following a concussion, which may enhance the development of TBI assessment and rehabilitation programs.