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Changes in the timed finger-to-nose task performance following exercise of different intensities


Objective The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of different levels of exercise intensity on the timed finger-to-nose (FTN) task, a measure of upper limb coordination included in the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT2).

Methods A three-group crossover randomised design was used to investigate changes in FTN times at three levels of exercise intensity; no exercise/rest (NE), moderate intensity exercise (ME) and high-intensity exercise (HE). Heart rates and a rating of perceived exertion (Borg Scale) were recorded to verify the level of exercise intensity. Participants performed three trials of the timed FTN task: pre-exercise, post-exercise and 15 min after the cessation of exercise. Linear mixed models were used to compare FTN change scores associated with exercise.

Results Ninety asymptomatic participants (45♂:45♀) aged 18–32 years completed the study. Changes in FTN scores from pre-exercise showed that the HE condition was facilitated relative to NE at post-exercise (8% faster, 95% CI 5% to 10%, p<0.001) and at post-15 (3% faster, 95% CI 1% to 6%, p=0.005). ME did not show such a facilitation following exercise (2% faster, 95% CI 0% to 4%, p=0.081 and 1% faster, 95% CI 1% to 4%, p=0.225 respectively).

Conclusions Performance on the FTN task is enhanced by a short period of HE, and this effect persists for at least 15 min. There was no evidence of such an effect with ME.

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