Does exercise evoke neurological symptoms in healthy subjects?

J Sci Med Sport. 2010 Jan;13(1):24-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2008.12.629. Epub 2009 Feb 20.


Concussion is a common injury in collision sports and is evidenced by a variety of signs and symptoms. The recording of neurological symptoms is an important component of screening for a concussion and in return-to-play decisions. However similar symptoms are prevalent in the general population and are reported to be associated with participation in physical activities. The purpose of this study was to document the neurological symptoms reported by healthy individuals following controlled bouts of exercise. A crossover randomised design with 2 levels of exercise intensity, moderate intensity and high intensity, each of 15min duration was used. Participants completed a standardised postconcussion symptom checklist prior to exercise (pre), immediately following exercise (post-1) and again after 15 min of rest (post-2). 60 participants were recruited into the study. A summed symptom score was calculated and analysed with a 2-way repeated measures ANOVA procedure. The intensityxtime interaction (F(2,118)=23.94, p<0.001) demonstrated a significant increase in symptom scores for the high intensity condition immediately following exercise (p<0.001). Although the moderate intensity showed a similar trend this was not significant. These findings suggest that sports medicine professionals need to be aware of the effect of exercise on symptom reporting when assessing and in making return-to-play decisions.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Neurological
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nervous System / physiopathology*
  • Sports / physiology
  • Young Adult