J Am Acad Audiol 2017; 28(01): 036-045
DOI: 10.3766/jaaa.15110
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Examining Effects of Physical Exertion on the Dynamic Visual Acuity Test in Collegiate Athletes

Jessie N. Patterson
*   Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE
Anna M. Murphy
*   Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE
Julie A. Honaker
*   Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
26 June 2020 (online)



Acute symptoms of dizziness and/or imbalance commonly experienced in athletes postconcussion are speculated to arise from dysfunction at multiple levels (i.e., inner ear or central vestibular system) to appropriately integrate afferent sensory information. Disruption along any pathway of the balance system can result in symptoms of dizziness, decreased postural control function (vestibulospinal reflex), and reduced vestibulo-ocular reflex function. This may also lead to decreased gaze stability with movements of the head and may account for symptoms of blurred vision or diplopia reported in almost half of athletes sustaining a concussion. Current concussion position statements include measures of postural control to examine changes to the balance system postconcussion. The Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) is a commonly used low-cost postural control measure for concussion assessment. Although this is a widely used measure for documenting balance function on both immediate (sideline) and recovery monitoring, the BESS has been shown to be affected by physical exertion. Therefore, the BESS may not be the most efficient means of examining functional changes to the balance system immediately after head injury. Dynamic Visual Acuity Test (DVAT) has been found to effectively evaluate and monitor changes to the gaze stability system postinjury. Thus, DVAT may be an additional measure in the concussion assessment battery, as well as an alternative for more immediate sideline assessment to help make objective return-to-play decisions.


The aim of the study was to determine the effects of physical exertion on a clinical vestibular assessment, the DVAT, in collegiate athletes, as a first step in defining the role of this measure in the concussion assessment battery.

Research Design:

Cross-sectional, repeated-measures design.

Study Sample:

Twenty-eight healthy collegiate athletes (20 males, 8 females; age = 20.25 ± 1.46 yr, range = 18–25 yr) volunteered to participate in the study.

Data Collection and Analysis:

Participants were randomly assigned to complete a 20-min protocol of physical exertion or rest. DVAT was completed pre-exertion or rest (pre-DVAT), immediately following the 20-min protocol (post-DVAT I), and again 10 min after the completion of the 20-min protocol (post-DVAT II). Ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) and heart rate (HR) were monitored throughout testing. Repeated-measures analysis of the variance were used to examine the effects of exertion on DVAT. Additionally, intraclass correlation coefficients were used to examine test reliability.


No significant main effect was observed for right and left DVAT logarithm of the minimal angle of resolution loss between groups or across time points (p > 0.05). A significant main effect was observed for RPE and HR for groups and time points (p < 0.001), indicating adequate physical exertion and rest. Fair to good reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient values between 0.4 and 0.74) was observed for both rightward and leftward movements of the head across the three time points.


Findings from this study suggest that DVAT is not affected by physical exertion and may provide a more immediate assessment of the balance system that may be of use for the sideline concussion assessment. Future studies will be performed to examine additional factors (e.g., background noise, complex visual backgrounds) that may affect DVAT performance in the sideline environment.


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