Locomotor deficits can still persist in people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) even if they seem to have recovered fully, a new Canadian research suggests.
To come up with their findings, a team led by Professor Bradford McFadyen from Universiti Laval compared mobility in 11 people who had suffered a moderate or severe TBI to 7 subjects of comparable age and physical condition with no neurological problems.
It looked like the subjects in the "TBI" group could walk again with some even returning to their regular activities at the time of the study.
Researchers took the subject to a special lab where the two groups of subjects had to walk a course on which researchers had placed various obstacles and created visual or auditory distractions.
Prof McFadyen said: "We wanted to reproduce real-life conditions in the laboratory where people have to move around and their brains are forced to handle a number of tasks simultaneously."
It was seen that in simple situations with no obstacles or sensory distractions, the subjects in the two groups showed similar walking abilities.
But in the "TBI" group, speed dipped and response times rose in tests that had obstacles or sensory interference.
Also, the clearance of the subject's foot over the obstacle was shorter for the "TBI" group.
Prof McFadyen said: "Our results suggest that even if victims of moderate or severe TBI appear to have generally recovered their locomotor abilities, deficits can persist.
He added: "This could have consequences if the affected people work in a complex physical environment-a factory, for example-or engage in activities that are demanding in terms of locomotor skills, such as a sport."
The study has appeared in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.