Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MSc)


Kinesiology and Physical Education


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr Michael Cinelli

Advisor Role

Thesis Advisor


Concussions are a common and potentially serious injury that affects athletes across multiple sports. More than ever concussions are now at the forefront of sport-related research.

Current research indicates that in a cohort of Canadian junior hockey players examined during the 2009-2010 season showed a rate of concussion at 36.5% of all athletic injuries (Echlin et al., 2010). This rate of concussion injury indicates that proper evaluations and examination tools are key to successful management of concussions. The objective of this study was to determine whether a functional task such as gait initiation is able to quantify stability difference following a concussion. It was hypothesized that the use of a functional task such as gait initiation will provide more sensitive and objective measures of balance control changes. The study used a total of 50 participants (22 males, 28 females) recruited from the Wilfrid Laurier University varsity men’s and women’s soccer, hockey, and basketball teams. Of the 50 participants, 10 represented athletes who had sustained a concussion (CONC) and 40 who had not received a concussion (CONT). Participants were required to stand on a force plate and initiate gait by taking a single step with their dominant foot towards a directional light (i.e., straight ahead or 30 degrees to either the left or right) as quickly as possible.

Results of the study indicated that CONC experienced significantly greater posterior COP displacement during the loading phase of gait initiation than the CONT. Excessive posterior displacement generated from the loading phase persisted throughout gait initiation and was recapture during the end phase. End phase step length and swing time was significantly increased in the CONC in comparison to the CONT. These results suggest that the CONC group needed excessive posterior COP generation to overcome increased instability that is common during static stance prior to gait initiation (Powers, Kalmar, & Cinelli, 2014). Additionally, increases in step length and swing time are indicative of the central nervous system response needed to arrest COM momentum.

The findings from this study demonstrate that gait initiation is a sensitive and meaningful test in detecting individuals who were suspected to have experienced a concussion even after 72 hours post-concussion. Additionally, the study demonstrated that a gait initiation task is an objective measure of functional balance control that may be useful for assessing the recovery progression of an individual following a concussion. Gait initiation may be a good method to demonstrate balance impairments outside 72 hours post-concussion.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season