Concussions can affect mobility and cognitive performance, and these impairments can interfere when tasks are completed concurrently (e.g., dual-tasking). As impaired speech fluency is a co-existing symptom of brain damage (ASHA, 2022), and walking while talking is a common daily dual task, this study aimed to examine how concussion alters speech fluency when sitting and walking. Our primary hypothesis was that concussion would impair speech fluency when combined with a mobility task. Specifically, longer and more frequent pauses during the speech were expected to indicate cognitive impairment (Bobba et al, 2019). The secondary hypothesis predicts both groups would exhibit a decline in speech fluency when walking compared to sitting. A total of 22 participants with a recent mTBI and 19 healthy individuals were provided informed written consent for this IRB-approved study. Participants completed two one-minute talking tasks: talking while sitting down (single-task) and talking while walking back and forth in a hallway (dual-task). Participants selected two topics from a predefined list and were instructed to speak for the entire minute while audio was recorded. The number and total duration of pauses during the speech were measured and compared between groups using independent t-tests. The control group showed significantly longer and more frequent pauses in dual-task (pause number p=0.0107; pause duration p=0.0289); while the mTBI group conveyed similar pause frequency for both single-task and dual-task yet longer pause duration in the dual-task (pause number p=0.8344; pause duration p=0.0197). A between-group comparison indicated the differences between the control and mTBI groups were not statistically significant. These results suggest that speech fluency is affected by walking. But the primary hypothesis cannot be rejected because subject differences for pre-mTBI speech fluency cannot be determined and speech fluency, in general, varies from person to person.
University / Institution: University of Utah
Format: In Person
SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)
Area of Research: Health & Medicine
Faculty Mentor: Peter Fino