Detecting gait abnormalities after concussion or mild traumatic brain injury: A systematic review of single-task, dual-task, and complex gait

Peter C. Fino, Lucy Parrington, Will Pitt, Douglas N. Martini, James C. Chesnutt, Li Shan Chou, Laurie A. King

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Background: While a growing number of studies have investigated the effects of concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) on gait, many studies use different experimental paradigms and outcome measures. The path for translating experimental studies for objective clinical assessments of gait is unclear. Research question: This review asked 2 questions: 1) is gait abnormal after concussion/mTBI, and 2) what gait paradigms (single-task, dual-task, complex gait) detect abnormalities after concussion. Methods: Data sources included MEDLINE/PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) accessed on March 14, 2017. Original research articles reporting gait outcomes in people with concussion or mTBI were included. Studies of moderate, severe, or unspecified TBI, and studies without a comparator were excluded. Results: After screening 233 articles, 38 studies were included and assigned to one or more sections based on the protocol and reported outcomes. Twenty-six articles reported single-task simple gait outcomes, 24 reported dual-task simple gait outcomes, 21 reported single-task complex gait outcomes, and 10 reported dual-task complex gait outcomes. Significance: Overall, this review provides evidence for two conclusions: 1) gait is abnormal acutely after concussion/mTBI but generally resolves over time; and 2) the inconsistency of findings, small sample sizes, and small number of studies examining homogenous measures at the same time-period post-concussion highlight the need for replication across independent populations and investigators. Future research should concentrate on dual-task and complex gait tasks, as they showed promise for detecting abnormal locomotor function outside of the acute timeframe. Additionally, studies should provide detailed demographic and clinical characteristics to enable more refined comparisons across studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-166
Number of pages10
JournalGait and Posture
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Balance
  • Brain injury
  • Locomotion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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