Primary objective: This study examined the effects of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) on cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR).
Research design: A repeated measures design was used to examine serial changes in CVR.
Methods and procedures: Twenty subjects who recently suffered a mTBI were subjected to a respiratory challenge consisting of repeated 20 s breath-holds (BH) and hyperventilations (HV). Testing occurred on days 2 (D2), 4 (D4) and 8 (D8) post-injury as well as a baseline (BASE) assessment (after return-to-play). Transcranial Doppler was used to assess mean cerebral blood velocity (vMCA) and expired gas analysis provided end-tidal carbon dioxide (PETCO2) levels.
Results: There was no significant difference in resting vMCA across all testing days for mTBI. No significant differences in PETCO2 were found throughout the testing protocol. A significant effect (p < 0.001) of testing day on vMCA was found during BH and HV challenges for mTBI. Post-hoc analysis revealed significant differences (p < 0.05) in vMCA between D2 and the other testing days.
Conclusions: These data suggest that, following mTBI: (1) CVR is not impaired at rest; (2) CVR is impaired in response to respiratory stress; and (3) the impairment may be resolved as early as 4 days post-injury.