Article

The Reliability of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation-Derived Corticomotor Inhibition as a Brain Health Evaluation Tool in Soccer Players

Citation

Di Virgilio TG, Ietswaart M, Selvamoorthy R & Hunter AM (2022) The Reliability of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation-Derived Corticomotor Inhibition as a Brain Health Evaluation Tool in Soccer Players. Sports Medicine - Open, 8, Art. No.: 7. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40798-021-00399-3

Abstract
Background The suitability of corticomotor inhibition and corticospinal excitability to measure brain health outcomes and recovery of sport-related head impact (concussion and subconcussion) depends on good inter-day reliability, which is evaluated in this study. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) reliability in soccer players is assessed by comparing soccer players, for whom reliability on this measure may be reduced due to exposure to head impacts, to generally active individuals not engaged in contact sport. Methods TMS-derived corticomotor inhibition and corticospinal excitability were recorded from the rectus femoris muscle during two testing sessions, spaced 1–2 weeks apart in 19 soccer players (SOC—age 22 ± 3 years) and 20 generally active (CON—age 24 ± 4 years) healthy volunteers. Inter-day reliability between the two time points was quantified by using intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC). Intra-group reliability and group differences on actual measurement values were also explored. Results Good inter-day reliability was evident for corticomotor inhibition (ICCSOC = 0.61; ICCCON = 0.70) and corticospinal excitability (ICCSOC = 0.59; ICCCON = 0.70) in both generally active individuals and soccer players routinely exposed to sport-related head impacts. Corticomotor inhibition showed lower coefficients of variation than excitability for both groups (InhibSOC = 15.2%; InhibCON = 9.7%; ExcitabSOC = 41.6%; ExcitabCON = 39.5%). No group differences between soccer players and generally active individuals were found on the corticomotor inhibition value (p greater than 0.05), but levels of corticospinal excitability were significantly lower in soccer players (45.1 ± 20.8 vs 85.4 ± 6.2%Mmax, p greater than 0.05), but levels of corticospinal excitability were significantly lower in soccer players (45.1 ± 20.8 vs 85.4 ± 6.2%Mmax, p greater than 0.05), but levels of corticospinal excitability were significantly lower in soccer players (45.1 ± 20.8 vs 85.4 ± 6.2%Mmax, p less than 0.0001). Corticomotor inhibition also showed excellent inter-rater reliability (ICC = 0.87). Conclusions Corticomotor inhibition and corticospinal excitability are stable and maintain good degrees of reliability when assessed over different days in soccer players, despite their routine exposure to head impacts. However, based on intra-group reliability and group differences of the levels of excitability, we conclude that corticomotor inhibition is best suited for the evaluation of neuromuscular alterations associated with head impacts in contact sports.

Keywords
TMS; Reliability; Soccer; Subconcussion; Concussion; Diagnostics

Journal
Sports Medicine - Open: Volume 8

StatusPublished
Publication date31/12/2022
Publication date online31/01/2022
Date accepted by journal21/12/2021
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/33863
ISSN2199-1170
eISSN2198-9761