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Eye movement performance and clinical outcomes among female athletes post-concussion

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posted on 2020-10-24, 17:40 authored by Virginia Gallagher, Brian Vesci, Jeffrey Mjaanes, Hans Breiter, Yufen Chen, Amy Herrold, James Reilly

Most post-concussion eye movement (EM) research involves predominantly male samples. We evaluated pro- (PRO; reflexive shift of visual attention to target) and anti- (ANTI; executive control of visual attention away from target) computer-based saccade task performance among female, collegiate athletes with recent concussion (CON) versus healthy-control athletes (HC). We evaluated the relationship between EM performance and post-concussion outcomes. We hypothesized ANTI performance would differ among CON and HC due to greater executive control demands, and that EM performance (both tasks) would be associated with clinical outcomes in CON.

16 CON (assessed 4–10 days post-injury [M = 6.87, SD = 2.15 days]) and 16 age-matched HC athletes were recruited. General linear mixed modeling and Pearson’s correlations were used.

On ANTI, CON demonstrated higher error rate [F(1,2863) = 12.650, p<.001] and shorter latency on error trials [F(1,469) = 5.976, p=.015] relative to HC. Multiple EM measures were associated with clinical outcomes: PRO duration predicted days to symptom remission (r=.44, p <.05); ANTI error rate was associated with symptom burden on the day of testing (r=.27, p <.05).

This study demonstrates promising utility of EM measures to detect cognitive control and sensorimotor effects of concussion among female athletes and their use as a prognostic indicators of recovery.


This work was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke [F31NS106840]; National Institutes of Health [UL1TR001422]; Eleanor Wood-Prince Grant Initiative: Women’s Board of Northwestern Memorial Hospital; Warren Wright Adolescent Center.


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