Neuromotor changes in participants with a concussion history can be detected with a custom smartphone app

Neuromotor dysfunction after a concussion is common, but balance tests used to assess neuromotor dysfunction are typically subjective. Current objective balance tests are either cost- or space-prohibitive, or utilize a static balance protocol, which may mask neuromotor dysfunction due to the simplicity of the task. To address this gap, our team developed an Android-based smartphone app (portable and cost-effective) that uses the sensors in the device (objective) to record movement profiles during a stepping-in-place task (dynamic movement). The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which our custom smartphone app and protocol could discriminate neuromotor behavior between concussed and non-concussed participants. Data were collected at two university laboratories and two military sites. Participants included civilians and Service Members (N = 216) with and without a clinically diagnosed concussion. Kinematic and variability metrics were derived from a thigh angle time series while the participants completed a series of stepping-in-place tasks in three conditions: eyes open, eyes closed, and head shake. We observed that the standard deviation of the mean maximum angular velocity of the thigh was higher in the participants with a concussion history in the eyes closed and head shake conditions of the stepping-in-place task. Consistent with the optimal movement variability hypothesis, we showed that increased movement variability occurs in participants with a concussion history, for which our smartphone app and protocol were sensitive enough to capture.
This article was originally published in PLOS ONE. The version of record is available at:
apps, cell phones, knees, behavior, kinematics, eyes, velocity, body weight
Rhea CK, Yamada M, Kuznetsov NA, Jakiela JT, LoJacono CT, et al. (2022) Neuromotor changes in participants with a concussion history can be detected with a custom smartphone app. PLOS ONE 17(12): e0278994.