The Long-Term Effects of Sports Concussion on Retired Australian Football Players: A Study Using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • This study investigated corticomotor excitability and inhibition, cognitive functioning, and fine motor dexterity in retired elite and amateur Australian football (AF) players who had sustained concussions during their playing careers. Forty male AF players who played at the elite level (n=20; mean age 49.7±5.7 years) or amateur level (n=20; mean age 48.4±6.9 years), and had sustained on average 3.2 concussions 21.9 years previously, were compared with 20 healthy age-matched male controls (mean age 47.56±6.85 years). All participants completed assessments of fine dexterity, visuomotor reaction time, spatial working memory (SWM), and associative learning (AL). Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was used to measure corticospinal excitability: stimulus-response (SR) curves and motor evoked potential (MEP) 125% of active motor threshold (aMT); and intracortical inhibition: cortical silent period (cSP), short-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI), and long-interval intracortical inhibition (LICI). Healthy participants performed better in dexterity (p=0.003), reaction (p=0.003), and movement time (p=0.037) than did both AF groups. Differences between AF groups were found in AL (p=0.027) and SWM (p=0.024). TMS measures revealed that both AF groups showed reduced cSP duration at 125% aMT (p>0.001) and differences in SR curves (p>0.001) than did healthy controls. Similarly, SICI (p=0.012) and LICI (p=0.009) were reduced in both AF groups compared with controls. Regression analyses revealed a significant contribution to differences in motor outcomes with the three measures of intracortical inhibition. The measures of inhibition differed, however, in terms of which performance measure they had a significant and unique predictive relationship with, reflecting the variety of participant concussion injuries. This study is the first to demonstrate differences in motor control and intracortical inhibition in AF players who had sustained concussions during their playing career two decades previously.

authors

  • Pearce, AJ
  • Hoy, K
  • Rogers, MA
  • Corp, DT
  • Maller, JJ
  • Drury, HGK
  • Fitzgerald, PB

publication date

  • 2014