Kinesiology experts have released new research that suggests that the physiological aftermath of a concussion may linger for 3 days to 7 days, potentially requiring a new protocol to address the patient’s condition. J. Patrick Neary, PhD, led the research team.
The team reportedly compared cerebrovascular reactivity in post-concussion brains and healthy brains by measuring blood flow in their middle cerebral artery. According to researchers, the blood flow rate and carbon dioxide levels of 31 athletes were monitored at baseline, while breath-holding, while hyperventilating, and at recovery. The data gathered encompassed 10 participants who had suffered a concussion within seven days prior to testing and 21 who were concussion-free for at least two months.
The results indicated that both healthy and concussed athletes at rest had similar results for blood flow rate and carbon dioxide levels. However, researchers point out that the responses in concussed athletes and healthy athletes diverged under the physiological stress of breath-holding and hyperventilation. Healthy athletes’ brains were reported to have recovered quickly after holding their breath and hyperventilating, compared to concussed athletes’ brains, which failed to return to resting levels.
Researchers say the findings reinforce a revised team physician consensus statement about concussion released by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind. According to the revision, neuropsychological testing should not be a stand-alone tool to diagnose or manage concussion or to make return-to-play decisions. Instead, “…A physiologically challenging protocol, like the one devised here, is needed to confirm whether athletes are fully recovered from a concussion and able to return to play,” Neary explains.
The study, titled “Cerebrovascular Reactivity Impairment After Sports-Induced Concussion,” was recently published in the official journal of ACSM, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.