Reduced frontopolar brain activation characterizes concussed athletes with balance deficits

I. Helmich, J. Coenen, S. Henckert, E. Pardalis, S. Schupp, H. Lausberg

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungBegutachtung


Objectives: Athletes with sport-related concussions (SRC) often demonstrate deficits in postural stability. Lower cerebral blood flow in frontal cortices has been documented in athletes with symptoms after SRC, however, it is unclear if functional brain oxygenation during postural control tasks is reduced in symptomatic athletes after SRC in the same manner. We therefore compared brain oxygenation patterns in frontal cortices of symptomatic and asymptomatic athletes with SRC during postural control tasks with the hypothesis that symptomatic athletes are characterized by reduced functional brain oxygenation during postural control. Methods: 62 concussed athletes (n = 31 symptomatic, n = 31 asymptomatic) were investigated during four postural control tasks with eyes closed versus eyes opened conditions and stable vs. unstable surface conditions. Brain oxygenation was assessed using functional NearInfraRed Spectroscopy (fNIRS) on frontopolar cortices of each hemisphere. Postural sway was measured by the analysis of ground reaction forces. Results: Symptomatic athletes showed greater postural sway when compared to asymptomatic athletes during postural control, particularly during closed eyes and/or unstable surface conditions. Changes of oxygenated hemoglobin (∆HbO2) within the left hemispheric frontopolar cortex were significantly reduced in symptomatic athletes when compared to asymptomatic athletes during the eyes closed condition. A stepwise linear regression analysis revealed that self-reported post-concussion symptoms such as headaches and sadness predict decreased brain oxygenation during postural control with closed eyes. Conclusion: Symptomatic athletes with increased postural sway are characterized by decreased frontopolar brain oxygenation during postural control tasks, particularly during conditions with closed eyes. Because the frontopolar cortex showed to be involved in redistributing executive functions to novel task situations, we conclude that athletes with post-concussion symptoms suffer from a deficit in coordinating postural adjustments to balance control tasks with reduced sensory input.
ZeitschriftNeuroImage: Clinical
Seiten (von - bis)102164
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 01.01.2020