Reduced Resting and Increased Elevation of Heart Rate Variability With Cognitive Task Performance in Concussed Athletes

Mu Huang, Justin Frantz, Gilbert Moralez, Tonia Sabo, Peter F. Davis, Scott L. Davis, Kathleen R. Bell, Sushmita Purkayastha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To examine heart rate variability (HRV) at rest and with a 2-Back cognitive task involving executive function and sustained attention in athletes during the acute phase following concussion and compare them with the controls. PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-three male and female collegiate athletes (20 ± 1 years) following (4 ± 1 days) a sports-related concussion and 23 sports- and sex-matched noninjured controls. PROCEDURE: Continuous R-R interval was acquired using 3-lead electrocardiogram for 3 minutes each at rest and during the 2-Back task. HRV was quantified as percent high-frequency (HF) power. RESULTS: At rest, lower percent HF power was observed in the concussed athletes (23 ± 11) compared with the controls (38 ± 14; P = .0027). However, with the 2-Back task, an increase in HF power was observed in the concussed group (39 ± 12; P = .0008) from rest and was comparable with the controls (36 ± 15). No difference in HF power between rest and 2-Back task was observed in the controls. CONCLUSION: Lower HRV was observed at rest following concussion. An increase in HRV, suggestive of enhanced prefrontal cortex (PFC) functioning, was observed during a cognitive task in the concussed athletes. Therefore, cognitive tasks as early as 4 days after injury may increase PFC functioning from rest and expedite return to learn in collegiate athletes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-51
Number of pages7
JournalThe Journal of head trauma rehabilitation
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology

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