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Journal of Healthcare Engineering




A variety of cognitive assessment tools are used to determine the functional status of the brain before and after injury in athletes. Questionnaires, neuropsychological tests, and electroencephalographic (EEG) measures have been recently used to directly assess brain function on and near the playing field. However, exercise can affect cognitive performance and EEG measures of cortical activity. To date, little empirical evidence exists on the effects of acute exercise on these measures of neurological function. We therefore quantified athlete performance on a standardized battery of concussion assessment tools and EEG measurements immediately before and after acute exercise to simulate conditions of athletic competition. Heart rate and arterial oxygen levels were collected before and after the exercise challenge consisting of a 1-mile run. Together these data, from a gender-balanced cohort of collegiate athletes, demonstrated that moderate to hard levels of acute exercise improved performance on the King-Devick test (K-D test) and Standardized Assessment of Concussion (SAC) component of the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT3). Gender played an important role in these effects, and performance was most affected by exercise in female athletes. EEG activity in the theta band (4-8 Hz) was decreased during periods of quiet resting with eyes open or eyes closed. Additionally, exercise produced a slowing of the EEG during the K-D test and a shift to higher frequencies during the balance assessment of the SCAT3. Together, these data indicate that exercise alone can influence outcome measures of cognitive assessment tools used to assess brain function in athletes. Finally, care must be taken to acquire postinjury measurements during a comparable physiologic state to that in which baseline assessment data were measured, and further research is needed into the factors influencing outcome measures of these tests.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.