Cognitive loading-induced sway alterations are similar in those with chronic ankle instability and uninjured controls

Christopher J. Burcal, Erik A. Wikstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Performing a cognitive task while balancing can result in either increased or decreased sway depending on the nature of the cognitive task, and is commonly used in pathologic populations to evaluate postural performance. A total of 39 participants were recruited into two groups: uninjured controls (n = 20, age: 21.9 ± 2.1 years, height: 175.0 ± 11.2 cm, mass: 71.3 ± 14.9 kg) and chronic ankle instability (n = 19, age: 22.1 ± 5.6 years, height: 169.7 ± 7.7 cm, mass: 72.9 ± 17.3 kg). Participants were asked to perform one of three cognitive tasks while maintaining single limb balance. Cognitive tasks included backwards counting by 3 (BC), the manikin test (MAN), and random number generation (RNG). Time-to-boundary minima, mean, and standard deviations were calculated and compared between groups as pre to post change scores. Effect sizes and 95% confidence intervals were also calculated to test for group differences and the effect of task performance on sway. No significant main effects of Group or Group by Task interactions were identified (p > 0.05). However, a significant multivariate main effect of Task was identified in BC (p = 0.001, F(6, 32) = 4.804) and RNG (p < 0.001, F(6, 32) = 6.233) but not for MAN (p = 0.117). The results suggest that those with chronic ankle instability and uninjured controls have similar postural-suprapostural interactions across multiple cognitive task domains. Both the BC and RNG tasks resulted in less sway for all participants. Our results suggest that dual-task interference in the CAI population may not be present as previous research would suggest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-98
Number of pages4
JournalGait and Posture
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Ankle sprains
  • Dual-task
  • Posture
  • Proprioception
  • Time to boundary
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation

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