The Influence of the Cervical Musculature, Visual Performance, and Anticipation on Head Impact Severity in High School and Collegiate Football Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
Creator
  • Schmidt, Julianne Denice
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Exercise and Sport Science
Abstract
  • Context: Athletes with weaker, smaller, and less stiff cervical musculature; diminished visual performance; and that do not anticipate an oncoming collision are thought to be more likely to experience rapid head acceleration during collision. Objective: To compare the odds of sustaining higher magnitude head impacts between athletes with higher and lower performance on cervical characteristic and visual performance measures and to compare head impact magnitudes between anticipated and unanticipated collisions. Participants: Forty-nine high school and collegiate football players. Interventions: Participants completed the cervical testing protocol and visual performance assessment prior to the season. Video footage of on-field collisions was analyzed to determine each player's level of anticipation at the time of head impact. Head impact biomechanics were captured at each practice and game. Main Outcome Measures: Cervical muscle strength, size, and stiffness, visual performance measures, level of anticipation, and head impact biomechanical measures. Results: Football players with greater cervical stiffness had reduced odds of sustaining higher magnitude head impacts, rather than head impacts in the 1st quartile, compared to players with less cervical stiffness. Surprisingly, players with stronger and larger cervical musculature had increased odds of sustaining higher magnitude head impacts, rather than head impacts in the 1st quartile, compared to players with weaker and smaller cervical musculature. Players with better near-far quickness, target capture, and reaction time performance had increased odds of sustaining higher magnitude head impacts, rather than head impacts in the 1st quartile. Head impact biomechanical measures did not differ between anticipated and unanticipated collisions. Conclusions: Neuromuscular training aimed at enhancing cervical muscle stiffness may be useful in reducing the magnitude of head impacts sustained while playing football. The results of this study do not support the theory that players with stronger and larger cervical musculature are better able to mitigate head impact severity. Vision and level of anticipation may play less of a role than expected for protecting against higher magnitude head impacts among high school football players. In summary, cervical stiffness plays a role in mitigating head impact severity, but the roles of cervical strength, visual performance, and level of anticipation need further study.
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  • In Copyright
Advisor
  • Guskiewicz, Kevin M.
Degree
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2013
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