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The effect of exercise on motor performance tasks used in the neurological assessment of sports-related concussion

Abstract

Sports-related concussion is assessed using both cognitive and motor performance tasks. There is limited understanding of how exercise affects these measures. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of moderate-intensity exercise on three selected measures of motor performance.

A repeated measures design was used to compare baseline motor performance scores with post-exercise scores with an exercise intervention modelled on the physiological demands of a team sport. 30 physically active subjects performed timed motor performance tasks: Finger-to-Nose (FTN), Tandem Gait (TG) and Single Leg Stance (SLS). The tasks were administered twice pre-exercise and twice post-exercise.

FTN, TG and SLS demonstrated high test–retest reliability (ICC values >0.8). 15 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise caused a significant improvement in FTN (T2 = 2.66 (SD 0.38), T3 = 2.49 (0.32); p<0.001) and TG (T2 = 13.08 (2.84), T3 = 12.23 (2.22); p = 0.001), but not in SLS (T2 = 5.94 (4.99), T3 = 5.91 (5.54); p = 0.507).

Improvement in the performance of motor tasks after exercise has implications for the immediate assessment of sports-related concussion, given that measures of motor performance are utilised in concussion assessment instruments.

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