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Autonomic Alterations Due To Repetitive Non-Concussive Head Trauma in Preadolescent Youth American Football Athletes

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Autonomic Alterations Due To Repetitive Non-Concussive Head Trauma in Preadolescent Youth American Football Athletes
Flood, William Coleman
Autonomic dysfunction has been examined in the incidence of concussion. However, there is little research pertaining to how repetitive, non-concussive head impacts (NCHIs) affect the autonomic nervous system. Previous examinations have exhibited a link between NCHIs and alterations in brain functional connectivity as well as structural white matter integrity. Furthermore, these neurological changes have been linked to changes in collision sport athlete behavior and cognition. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is considered a component of the peripheral nervous system and is critical for maintaining homeostasis. The ANS is composed of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Activation of the parasympathetic division promotes systemic restorative properties, and activation of the sympathetic division promotes the systemic mobilization of energy to meet increased contextual demands. The influences of these two ANS division are present in measurements of cardiac activity. Heart rate variability (HRV) is a non-invasive index of beat-to-beat changes in heart rate, reflecting both sympathetic and parasympathetic influences on cardiac function. The ANS is influenced by numerous structures in the central nervous system. These structures have been dubbed the central autonomic network (CAN) and are a critical component of autonomic regulation. Disruption to these CAN structures has been implicated in numerous pathologies, including concussion. Thus, the present dissertation examines the effect of non-concussive head impacts on the autonomic nervous system in preadolescent American football players. First, I will present a correlation between head impact exposure and changes in heart rate variability after single season of participation in youth American football. Secondly, I will explore this correlation further by first examining the relationship between single-season NCHIs and changes in functional connectivity of CAN cortical regions, and then demonstrating how these changes in functional connectivity are predictive of changes in HRV. Finally, I will conclude this dissertation by proposing a possible paradigm in which these results may pertain to long-term, neurodegeneration seen in former collision sport athletes.
American Football
Autonomic Nervous System
Central Autonomic Network
Heart Rate Variability
Whitlow, Christopher T (advisor)
Hampson, Robert (committee member)
Miles, Christopher (committee member)
Schaich, Christopher (committee member)
Urban, Jillian (committee member)
2023-09-08T08:35:18Z (accessioned)
2023 (issued)
Neuroscience (discipline)
2024-09-07 (terms)
2024-09-07 (liftdate)
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/102599 (uri)
en (iso)
Wake Forest University

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