Research Topic

Shedding New Light on Sport Concussion and Subconcussion: Integrative Approaches to Understanding the Causes and Consequences of Head Injury

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The effect that concussion and routine repeated subconcussive impact in sport has on brain and muscle is under-researched. This may be due to the lack of informative and sensitive assessment tools capable of detecting subtle brain changes. A broad and innovative spectrum of technologies is required to reveal ...

The effect that concussion and routine repeated subconcussive impact in sport has on brain and muscle is under-researched. This may be due to the lack of informative and sensitive assessment tools capable of detecting subtle brain changes. A broad and innovative spectrum of technologies is required to reveal what happens at a brain level immediately after head impact and during recovery. The direct evidence that neurophysiological and motor control measurements offer is instrumental in advancing the still limited understanding of the causes and consequences of mild head injury.

Growing evidence is emerging for use of electrophysiology measurements such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in conjunction with electromyography (EMG) as a means for detecting disturbances in the cortico- spinal pathways i.e. brain to muscle. The origin of these disturbances, in the cortex, can also be investigated by using neuroimaging techniques such as resting state fMRI, MR-spectroscopy, and voxel-based morphometry. An important application for TMS technology has been to detect concussion and subsequent recovery either from contact sport or other activities. Related to this, these measurements are also used to provide evidence of subconcussive impacts either acutely i.e. immediately following contact sport, and chronically i.e. over a season of contact sport.

Given these measurements are detecting disturbances in the electrophysiological pathway from brain to muscle, it is likely that at some level neuromuscular function is disturbed. This suggestion is, in part, corroborated by the recent finding demonstrating that Professional Rugby Union players have a 60% greater injury risk following concussion which may be due to impaired motor control. Yet little evidence exists to demonstrate how disturbed electrophysiological pathways affect motor control.

This Research Topic aims to assemble a collection of papers from experts in the fields of neurophysiology and cognitive neuroscience that will present (1) original research in neurophysiological measurement of concussion and subconcussion; (2) discuss the strength of evidence for detecting concussion and subconcussion from electrophysiological measurement and other neuroimaging techniques; (3) original research presenting the link between neurophysiological disturbance, following concussion/subconcussion and impaired motor control and cognitive function and; (4) discuss how electrophysiological changes and associated impairments of cognition and motor control, following concussion/subconcussion, may act as a biomarker for detecting Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).


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