The Relationship Between Measures of Postural Control in Concussion Assessment

Courtney DeFeo, Nicholas Heebner, Carrie Baker, Matthew Hoch, Nathan Morelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To determine the relationship between postural sway performance during commonly utilized postural control assessments following a concussion, including the modified Balance Error Scoring System (mBESS), concussion balance test (COBALT), and sensory organization test (SOT) in healthy young adults. Approach: Twenty participants completed all balance testing. The mBESS conditions included double limb stance, single limb stance, and tandem stance. The COBALT was comprised of yaw plane head shake (HS) and vestibular ocular reflex cancellation conditions performed on firm and foam surfaces. Subjects performed 6 conditions of the SOT (C1-C6), which systematically perturbed sensory inputs. Postural sway performance was measured using a single force plate and quantified as a sway score for the mBESS and COBALT, and an equilibrium score for the SOT. Spearman rank correlations were used to examine the relationship between postural sway performance for each test. Main Results: There was a moderate positive correlation between mBESS-tandem stance and the HS on foam COBALT condition (r = .643, P = .002). There was a moderate negative correlation between mBESS-double limb stance and SOT-C6 (r = -.512, P = .021), and between mBESS-single limb stance and SOT-C6 (r = -.523, P = .018). The COBALT and SOT demonstrated numerous moderate to good negative correlations (r = -.448 to -.708, P ≤ .05), including a good negative correlation between HS on foam and SOT-C1 (r = -.725, P = .0003). Significance: Performance on the mBESS had minimal relationship to performance on the COBALT and SOT, suggesting that the clinical standard may not challenge sensory integration at the same capacity as other tests. All COBALT conditions had fair to good associations to at least 2 SOT conditions, suggesting both assessments are representative of sensory integration. Further investigation of the current clinical approach is warranted as the COBALT may be a clinically feasible test of sensory integration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-456
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Sport Rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Human Kinetics, Inc. Keywords: sensory integration, balance, brain injury, outcome measures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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