The use of continuous spectral analysis for the assessment of postural stability changes after sports-related concussion

Katherine A.J. Daniels*, George Henderson, Siobhán Strike, Ciaran Cosgrave, Colm Fuller, Éanna Falvey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Impaired postural stability is associated with a variety of pathologies including sports-related concussion (SRC). Quantification of centre of pressure (COP) movement is the most common focus of instrumented assessment. Frequency-domain COP analyses have focused primarily on summary measures or pre-defined frequency bands but continuous analysis may provide novel and complementary insight into pathological control mechanisms. Our aims were (i) to compare post-SRC COP trajectory changes identified using clinician scores (Modified Balance Error Scoring System (M-BESS)), time-domain COP variables and continuous frequency spectral comparison; and (ii) to characterise frequency spectra changes. Male rugby players aged 15–19 years (n = 135) completed a pre-season baseline assessment comprising vision-obscured double-leg, single-leg and tandem stances on a force platform. Participants diagnosed with SRC during the season (n = 15) underwent repeat testing (median 4 days post-SRC; IQR 2.5–6.5). Baseline and post-SRC COP trajectories were compared using common time-domain COP variables, M-BESS scores and continuous frequency spectra. Post-SRC changes were identified using all three approaches. Spectral analysis revealed the largest effect size (Cliff's delta 0.39) and was the only method to identify differences in all three stances and in double-leg stance. All post-SRC increases in spectral content were in the anteroposterior direction; all decreases were in the mediolateral direction. Changes were localised to higher frequencies (1.7–8 Hz) except for double-leg stance anteroposterior direction, for which increases were observed throughout the analysed range. Our findings suggest that this method of spectral comparison may provide a more responsive and meaningful measure of postural stability changes after SRC than other commonly-used variables.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109400
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Early online date10 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2019


  • Balance
  • Centre of pressure
  • Concussion
  • Fourier transform
  • Frequency domain analysis
  • Postural stability control


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