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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Baroreceptor sensitivity and heart rate variability in sport related concussions Strachan, Nicole Cecelia


Sports related concussions (SRC) have become a popular topic and more awareness and interest has risen towards this growing type of brain injury. The cardiovascular aspects of a concussion in particular baroreceptor sensitivity and heart rate variability need to be further investigated. Baroreceptor sensitivity (BRS) and heart rate variability (HRV) may be altered due to a biomechanical force to the brain stem, lesions or axonal stretching that occurs after a concussion. If the brain stem is damaged this may cause a disruption to the cardiovascular centers as they are located in the medulla oblongata. Six concussed athletes (5 males and 1 female) with sport- related concussion (age: 17.5± 2 years, BMI: 24 ± 1 kg/m²) and 6 healthy control-subjects (5 males and 1 female; age: 20 ± 2 years, BMI: 22 ± 2 kg/m²) participated by performing two rounds of stand squats at frequencies of 0.1Hz and 0.05Hz for 5 minutes. BRS and HRV are not altered after suffering from a SRC. Although this finding contrasts with the original hypothesis that there would be reduced BRS and abnormal HRV in sports related concussions, the issues of small sample size and marked within subject variability are acknowledged. Another likely possibility explaining the lack of notable differences is that, unlike severe head injury, a SRC is not enough of an injury to damage central control of the cardiovascular centers in the medullar regions of the brain and therefore efferent and afferent signal pathways remain intact and are capable of responding to different stressors maintaining BRS and HRV.

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