Association of visual tracking metrics with Post-Concussion Symptomatology

Jun Maruta, Lisa A. Spielman, Umesh Rajashekar, Jamshid Ghajar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Attention impairment may provide a cohesive neurobiological explanation for clusters of clinical symptoms that occur after a concussion; therefore, objective quantification of attention is needed. Visually tracking a moving target is an attention-dependent sensorimotor function, and eye movement can be recorded easily and objectively to quantify performance. Our previous work suggested the utility of gaze-target synchronization metrics of a predictive visual tracking task in concussion screening and recovery monitoring. Another objectively quantifiable performance measure frequently suggested for concussion screening is simple visuo-manual reaction time (simple reaction time, SRT). Here, we used visual tracking and SRT tasks to assess changes between pre- and within-2-week post-concussion performances and explore their relationships to post-concussion symptomatology. Athletes participating in organized competitive sports were recruited. Visual tracking and SRT records were collected from the recruited athlete pool as baseline measures over a 4-year period. When athletes experienced a concussion, they were re-assessed within 2 weeks of their injury. We present the data from a total of 29 concussed athletes. Post-concussion symptom burden was assessed with the Rivermead Post-Concussion Symptoms Questionnaire and subscales of the Brain Injury Screening Questionnaire. Post-concussion changes in visual tracking and SRT performance were examined using a paired t-test. Correlations of changes in visual tracking and SRT performance to symptom burden were examined using Pearson's coefficients. Post-concussion changes in visual tracking performance were not consistent among the athletes. However, changes in several visual tracking metrics had moderate to strong correlations to symptom scales (r up to 0.68). On the other hand, while post-concussion SRT performance was reduced (p < 0.01), the changes in the performance metrics were not meaningfully correlated to symptomatology (r = 0.33). Results suggest that visual tracking performance metrics reflect clinical symptoms when assessed within 2 weeks of concussion. Evaluation of concussion requires assessments in multiple domains because the clinical profiles are heterogeneous. While most individuals show recovery within a week of injury, others experience prolonged recovery periods. Visual tracking performance metrics may serve as a biomarker of debilitating symptoms of concussion implicating attention as a root cause of such pathologies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number611
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Volume9
Issue numberJUL
DOIs
StatePublished - 26 Jul 2018

Keywords

  • Closed head injury
  • Mild traumatic brain injury
  • Ocular pursuit
  • Predictive timing
  • Smooth pursuit

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