OBJECTIVES: Symptoms after sport-related concussions (SRC) are common. Because post-concussion symptoms are often not clearly visible, speech-accompanying gestures may help clinicians to gain additional information about the patient's history and symptoms during medical consultation. We hypothesized that athletes with SRC and who suffered from persisting symptoms would display more gestures during concussion assessment protocols when compared to non-concussed athletes because of the athletes' previous motor-sensory experiences made during the concussive event.
DESIGN: A retrospective cross-sectional study.
METHODS: Three matched groups of 40 (active) athletes were investigated in the context of concussion assessment (/and baseline) protocols: 14 symptomatic and 14 asymptomatic athletes with a SRC, and 12 non-concussed athletes. Certified raters using a standard analysis system for nonverbal behaviour analysed videotaped hand movements and gestures during a standardized concussion assessment protocol.
RESULTS: Symptomatic athletes spent significantly more time with in space hand movements, i.e., movements that act in the body-external free space without touching anything and specifically, motion quality presentation gestures than non-concussed athletes.
CONCLUSIONS: Increased in space movements, which are functionally gestures, and specifically, motion quality presentation gestures in symptomatic athletes indicate that the more vivid sensory motor experience of the head trauma is reflected in more gestural expressions. Thus, hand movements and gestures differentiate athletes who suffer from post-concussion symptoms from non-concussed athletes indicating the athletes' motor-sensory experiences of the event and its aftereffects. The present study highlights the fact that gestures can be employed as behavioural markers of symptoms after sport-related concussions.