Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

Assessment of the acute sensorimotor and neurocognitive effects of repeated heading of a soccer ball Public Deposited

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https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/47429c82m

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  • Several recent studies have revealed that high caliber European professional soccer players often have diminished levels of neurological functioning, yet no study has been able to identify the specific aspect of soccer participation responsible for these decreases. In an effort to identify a source of mild traumatic brain injury present in everyday participation in soccer, this study investigated whether a single bout of heading a soccer ball would have acute detrimental, measurable effects on sensorimotor and neurocognitive functioning. We hypothesized that subjects would exhibit significant changes in postural stability, memory, and concentration immediately after an acute bout of repeated heading a soccer ball. Additionally, we evaluated the protective effect(s) associated with wearing a mouthguard while performing the acute bout of heading. Twenty-eight elite level soccer players (mean age, 20.9 ± 2.5 yrs) were randomly assigned to one of three experimental groups: Headers with mouthguard (n=10), Headers with no mouthguard (n=10), and Control (n=8). Subjects in the two treatment groups performed 12 headers of soccer balls projected at 40 km/hr from an electric soccer ball-launching machine. Postural stability was evaluated using a Biodex Stability System, while memory and concentration were assessed using Wechsler Digit Span (WDS) tests (digits forward and digits backward) in a 3 x 2 factorial ANOVA design (α=0.05). There were no significant main effects or interactions among the three measures of postural stability scores in the three groups (p>0.05). The WDS Forward group means ranged from 10.4 ± 1.8 to 13.5 ± 1.2 while the WDS Backward means ranged from 6.4 ± 1.1 to 7.7 ± 3.0, but were not different among the groups (p>0.05). We concluded that a single bout of 12 soccer headers approximating the number of headers performed during a typical NCAA Division I-A soccer practice did not produce significant deficits in postural stability, memory, or concentration. While our findings are similar to several recent studies, we suggest that more sensitive measurement tools such as ImPACT neurocognitive testing and functional magnetic resonance imaging be utilized to determine the effects of acute as well as chronic exposure to headers in soccer players.
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