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Chronic mTBI May Hinder Veterans’ Gait Balance Control


June 01, 2020

Gait balance control may be impaired when veterans with chronic mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) divide their attention, according to a study published in the journal Gait & Posture. 

“Numerous investigations suggest mTBI may result in persistent gait balance control deficits,” researchers wrote. “Furthermore, military veterans with symptoms of chronic mTBI often present with physical symptoms that may be associated with impaired gait balance control, which may lead to prolonged recovery, difficulty performing activities of daily living, and increased disability.” 

Researchers conducted the case-control study to quantify gait balance deficits in eight veterans with mTBI compared with eight matched veterans without mTBI. The sample included two female veterans: one with mTBI and one without mTBI.

In both single- and dual-task walking conditions, veterans with chronic mTBI walked with approximately a 25% greater medial-lateral center of mass displacement compared with veterans without mTBI, researchers reported.

When veterans performed a cognitive task while walking, peak medial-lateral center of mass displacement velocity was affected for both groups. Yet veterans without mTBI had slower medial-lateral center of mass displacement velocities, suggesting the adoption of a conservative balance control strategy. Faster medial-lateral center of mass displacement velocities observed for veterans with chronic mTBI, on the other hand, could signal a diminished ability to control medial-lateral momentum, according to the study. 

“Increased frontal plane center of mass motion under both single- and dual-task walking was observed in veterans with chronic mTBI symptoms many years after injury,” researchers wrote. “This suggests gait balance control may be adversely affected during divided attention gait and highlights the need for comprehensive gait analysis in the management of these individuals.”

Jolynn Tumolo

Reference:

Pitt W, Chou LS. A case-control study of gait balance control in veterans with chronic symptoms following mTBI. Gait Posture. 2020;76:188‐192. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2019.12.010

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