Using functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) to measure brain activity during dual-task performance in pediatric concussion patients (Healthy Youth)

Actively Recruiting: Concussion


There is evident alterations in brain function following mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). It is of particular concern in the pediatric population with nearly 60% of children continuing to experience symptoms one month after injury. Currently, rehabilitation and return-to-life protocols use subjective self-measures of recovery. However recovery of symptoms may not coincide with recovery of brain function. There is evidence in changes in brain function during attention and memory tasks in youth following mTBI compared to controls. Furthermore, performance on tasks tends to suffer more during dual-task paradigms, where the brain is challenged to complete two tasks concurrently. This evidence comes from the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) which has given some insight into the underlying brain alterations following mTBI's. However, fMRI is expensive and is limited to positions where the patient is required to lie still. An inexpensive and accessible technique, functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), may be an alternate technique to measure brain function. This study will use fNIRS while completing a dual-task paradigm that combines an attention task (Stroop Interference Task) with the Clinical Test of Sensory Integration and Balance (postural sway). We believe that by monitoring brain function using fNIRS we will be able to better understand the underlying alterations caused by mTBI.  


Nick Reed, PhDTom Chau, PhD, PEng

Participate in this study

Do you want to help us learn what happens to the brain after a concussion? Consider participating in a research study about measuring and analyzing brain activity in youth.

What is this study about:
• We are conducting a research study looking at brain activity in youth during recovery from a concussion. 
• We will compare brain activity measured from youth with and without concussion.
• We are using a technology called Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) to measure brain activity. 
• There are no known harms associated with NIRS. 

Who can participate

We are looking to recruit 20 youth with the following profile: 
• Between the ages of 13-18 years;
• Have never had a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury or have had concussion symptoms within the past year;
• Do not currently have a skull fracture;
• Have no degenerative, cardiovascular, metabolic, or respiratory disorders;
• Have no drug or alcohol-related conditions;
• Have no prior history of a psychiatric disease or mental health conditions;
• Are not currently using any drugs that alter or have an impact on brain state;
• Can read and understand English.

What's Involved

• During each session, a headband with small sensors attached to it will be placed on your head. This will allow us to measure how brain activity changes when you perform different tasks.
• We will also place a small accelerometer sensor on your head to measure movement, and a sensor on your finger to measure your heart rate.
• You will come in for 3 sessions. The 2nd and 3rd sessions will be 1 month and 3 months following the initial session. 
• Each session will be approximately 1 hour in length.
• During each session, you will perform 3 tasks -  colour-based attentional task, a balance task, and both attention and balance tasks at the same time. 
• All sessions will be held at Holland Bloorview and conducted at convenient times for you.


June 2017

Interested in participating

Contacting us does not obligate you to participate in the study.

Karolina Urban
PhD Candidate
Concussion Centre, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
Phone: 416-425-6220 x6421

Funding Agency

Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation

Learn more about this study