Effects of mild traumatic brain injury (sports-related concussion) on eye-head-hand coordination.
Sports-related concussions (mild traumatic brain injuries or mTBI) are estimated to occur between 1.6 and 3.8 million times annually in the United States. The dangers of repeated injuries can be severe, particularly if additional impacts occur before full recovery. Prevention, identification, treatment, rehabilitation, and determination of recovery time-points are largely inadequate due to the paucity of parametric factors that can be easily and reliably measured both in the field and in the clinic. The overarching goal of the proposed study is to identify behavioral markers of mTBI that will ultimately help protect athletes from the dangers of premature return to full activity by tracking and facilitating recovery after injury. To accomplish this, a battery of visual-spatial tasks has been designed that require coordination of the eyes, head and hand and address sensorimotor plasticity, spatial working memory, and visuo-spatial orientation. These particular tasks have been selected because they permit a focused assessment of a variety of critical brain functions. Functions that when disrupted by mTBI can result in disorientation, dysmetria, and dyscoordination and are often symptoms of mild TBI in human subjects as well as in animal models of TBI. Careful analysis of movement kinematics and coordination during eye-head-hand orienting movements, movements to remembered target locations, visual guidance and control of hand trajectories, and tasks that require adaptive plasticity of coordination will yield parameters that pinpoint effects of mTBI, its progression and recovery to an extent that existing clinical exams and tests do not allow.
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