Objectively assessing sports concussion utilizing visual evoked potentials

Daryl H. Fong, Adrian J. Cohen, Dylan E. Mahony, Neil G. Simon, Joseph E. Herrera, Rebecca B. Baron, David Putrino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A portable system capable of measuring steady-state visual-evoked potentials (SSVEP) was developed to provide an objective, quantifiable method of electroencephalogram (EEG) testing following a traumatic event. In this study, the portable system was used on 65 healthy rugby players throughout a season to determine whether SSVEP are a reliable electrophysiological biomarker for concussion. Preceding the competition season, all players underwent a baseline SSVEP assessment. During the season, players were re-tested within 72 h of a match for either test-retest reliability or post-injury assessment. In the case of a medically diagnosed concussion, players were reassessed again once deemed recovered by a physician. The SSVEP system consisted of a smartphone housed in a VR-frame delivering a 15 Hz flicker stimulus, while a wireless EEG headset recorded occipital activity. Players were instructed to stare at the screen's fixation point while remaining seated and quiet. Electrodes were arranged according to the 10-20 EEG-positioning nomenclature, with O1-O2 being the recording channels while P1-P2 the references and bias, respectively. All EEG data was processed using a Butterworth bandpass filter, Fourier transformation, and normalization to convert data for frequency analysis. Players SSVEP responses were quantified into a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), with 15 Hz being the desired signal, and summarized into respective study groups for comparison. Concussed players were seen to have a significantly lower SNR compared to their baseline; however, post-recovery, their SNR was not significantly different from the baseline. Test-retest indicated high device reliability for the portable system. An improved portable SSVEP system was also validated against an established EEG amplifier to ensure the investigative design is capable of obtaining research quality EEG measurements. This is the first study to identify differences in SSVEP responses in amateur athletes following a concussion and indicates the potential for SSVEP as an aid in concussion assessment and management.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere62082
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Volume2021
Issue number170
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021

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