Context: With regard to sideline concussion testing, the effect of fatigue associated with different types of exercise on postural control is unknown.
Objective: To evaluate the effects of fatigue on postural control in healthy college-aged athletes performing anaerobic and aerobic exercise protocols and to establish an immediate recovery time course from each exercise protocol for postural control measures to return to baseline status.
Design: Counterbalanced, repeated measures.
Setting: Research laboratory.
Patients or other participants: Thirty-six collegiate athletes (18 males, 18 females; age = 19.00 +/- 1.01 years, height = 172.44 +/- 10.47 cm, mass = 69.72 +/- 12.84 kg).
Intervention(s): Participants completed 2 counterbalanced sessions within 7 days. Each session consisted of 1 exercise protocol followed by postexercise measures of postural control taken at 3-, 8-, 13-, and 18-minute time intervals. Baseline measures were established during the first session, before the specified exertion protocol was performed.
Main outcome measure(s): Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) results, sway velocity, and elliptical sway area.
Results: We found a decrease in postural control after each exercise protocol for all dependent measures. An interaction was noted between exercise protocol and time for total BESS score (P = .002). For both exercise protocols, all measures of postural control returned to baseline within 13 minutes.
Conclusions: Postural control was negatively affected after anaerobic and aerobic exercise protocols as measured by total BESS score, elliptical sway area, and sway velocity. The effect of exertion lasted up to 13 minutes after each exercise was completed. Certified athletic trainers and clinicians should be aware of these effects and their recovery time course when determining an appropriate time to administer sideline assessments of postural control after a suspected mild traumatic brain injury.
Keywords: balance; concussions; fatigue; mild head injuries; mild traumatic brain injuries; recovery.