Effects of sport-related repetitive subconcussive head impacts on biofluid markers: a scoping review protocol


Lember L, Ntikas M, Mondello S, Wilson L, Hunter A, Di Virgilio T, Santoro E & Ietswaart M (2021) Effects of sport-related repetitive subconcussive head impacts on biofluid markers: a scoping review protocol. BMJ Open, 11 (6), Art. No.: e046452.

Introduction Sport-related repetitive subconcussive head impacts (RSHIs) are increasingly thought to be associated with adverse long-term outcomes. However, owing to potentially subtle effects, accurate assessment of harm to the brain as a consequence of RSHI is a major challenge and an unmet need. Several studies suggest that biofluid markers can be valuable objective tools to aid the diagnosis and injury characterisation and help in medical decision-making. Still, by and large, the results have been limited, heterogeneous and inconsistent. The main aims of this scoping review are therefore (1) to systematically examine the extent, nature and quality of available evidence from studies investigating effects of RSHI on fluid biomarkers and (2) to formulate guidelines and identify gaps with the aim to inform future clinical studies and the development of research priorities. Methods and analyses We will use a comprehensive search strategy to retrieve all available and relevant articles in the literature. The following electronic databases will be systematically searched: MEDLINE (EBSCO host; from 1809 to 2020); Scopus (from 1788 to 2020); SPORTDiscus (from 1892 to 2020); CINAHL Complete (from 1937 to 2020); PsycINFO (from 1887 to 2020); Cochrane Library (to 2020); OpenGrey (to 2020); (to 2020) and WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (to 2020). We will consider primarily biomedical studies evaluating the biofluid markers following RSHI. Two independent reviewers will screen articles for inclusion using predefined eligibility criteria and extract data of retained articles. Disagreements will be resolved through consensus or arbitrated by a third reviewer if necessary. Data will be reported qualitatively given the heterogeneity of the included studies. In synthesising the evidence, we will structure results by markers, sample types, outcomes, sport and timepoints. Ethics and dissemination Ethics approval is not required. We will submit results for peer-review publication, and present at relevant conferences.

neurological injury; neuropathology; sports medicine

BMJ Open: Volume 11, Issue 6

FundersSeventh Framework Programme, University of Stirling and Italian Ministry of Health
Publication date30/06/2021
Publication date online30/06/2021
Date accepted by journal27/05/2021