Effect of Acute Exercise on Clinically Measured Reaction Time in Collegiate Athletes
Reddy S, Eckner JT, & Kutcher JS. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Epub ahead of print August 11, 2013; doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000000140http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/publishahead/Effect_of_Acute_Exercise_on_Clinically_Measured.98254.aspx
Take Home Message: Assessing reaction time with a simple sidelines reaction-time task is not influenced by biking exercise.
In efforts to objectively assess concussion symptoms, we measure reaction time via neurocognitive testing or a simple, non-computerized instrument (see related posts below). However, it is important to determine if exercise has an effect on reaction time to understand how to interpret reaction time changes. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the effects of varying exercise intensity levels on a simple reaction time task. Among 42 volunteers, the authors randomly selected 28 participants to perform a 4-stage biking task at increasing intensities and 14 control participants who merely sat on the exercise bike. All participants completed the reaction time task and the authors also measured heart rate and rate of perceived exertion among those exercising. The reaction time task involved holding onto a cylindrical shaft that was dropped at random time increments between 2 to 5 seconds. The participants completed the reaction time task 8 times after each stage of the exercise protocol (or simulated stages) and the authors calculated the average reaction time at the five testing points. There were no reaction time differences between those that did and did not exercise. In both groups, participants improved their reaction time as they repeated the reaction time task over the course of 5 tests.
Clinically, there is no apparent effect of increasing intensity during biking on a simple reaction time task that could be used on sidelines. This may allow for the use of a simple sideline reaction time task to objectively assess for a possible concussion. In trying to objectify a concussion evaluation, this may prove to be valuable since neuropsychological testing is not easily and readily available during the course of an event. It is of note that the exercise bouts studied were simple biking tasks, and none of the athletes studied were cyclists. It may be interesting to see what the effects of functional exercise bouts may be on this reaction time task. The authors admitted that there was an apparent learning curve, which led to improved performance over time in both groups. Also, this task, while simple, may be affected by other various components such as concomitant injury, anxiety, cardiovascular status, etc. Overall, this test continues to be an interesting method to assess reaction time.
Questions for Discussion: Do you think that you would be interested in utilizing a sideline reaction time task to inform your concussion evaluation? Are there any other objective measurements that you use?
Written by: Nicole Cattano
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban
Related Posts:Consistency of a Clinical Reaction Time Assessment Between Seasons: A Possible Low Cost Concussion Assessment?
Reddy S, Eckner JT, & Kutcher JS (2013). Effect of Acute Exercise on Clinically Measured Reaction Time in Collegiate Athletes. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise PMID: 24002343