A novel approach to assessment of perceptual-motor efficiency and training-induced improvement in the performance capabilities of elite athletes
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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OriginalversjonFrontiers in Sports and Active Living. 2021, 3, Artikkel 729729. 10.3389/fspor.2021.729729
Standard clinical assessments of mild traumatic brain injury are inadequate to detect subtle abnormalities that can be revealed by sophisticated diagnostic technology. An association has been observed between sport-related concussion (SRC) and subsequent musculoskeletal injury, but the underlying neurophysiological mechanism is not currently understood. A cohort of 16 elite athletes (10 male, 6 female), which included nine individuals who reported a history of SRC (5 male, 4 female) that occurred between 4 months and 8 years earlier, volunteered to participate in a 12-session program for assessment and training of perceptual-motor efficiency. Performance metrics derived from single- and dual-task whole-body lateral and diagonal reactive movements to virtual reality targets in left and right directions were analyzed separately and combined in various ways to create composite representations of global function. Intra-individual variability across performance domains demonstrated very good SRC history classification accuracy for the earliest 3-session phase of the program (Reaction Time Dispersion AUC = 0.841; Deceleration Dispersion AUC = 0.810; Reaction Time Discrepancy AUC = 0.825, Deceleration Discrepancy AUC = 0.794). Good earliest phase discrimination was also found for Composite Asymmetry between left and right movement directions (AUC = 0.778) and Excursion Average distance beyond the minimal body displacement necessary for virtual target deactivation (AUC = 0.730). Sensitivity derived from Youden's Index for the 6 global factors ranged from 67 to 89% and an identical specificity value of 86% for all of them. Median values demonstrated substantial improvement from the first 3-session phase to the last 3-session phase for Composite Asymmetry and Excursion Average. The results suggest that a Composite Asymmetry value ≥ 0.15 and an Excursion Average value ≥ 7 m, provide reasonable qualitative approximations for clinical identification of suboptimal perceptual-motor performance. Despite acknowledged study limitations, the findings support a hypothesized relationship between whole-body reactive agility performance and functional connectivity among brain networks subserving sensory perception, cognitive decision-making, and motor execution. A complex systems approach appears to perform better than traditional data analysis methods for detection of subtle perceptual-motor impairment, which has the potential to advance both clinical management of SRC and training for performance enhancement.
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