Neurovascular Coupling in Special Operations Forces Combat Soldiers.
Additional Document Info
The purpose of this study was to investigate how concussion history affects neurovascular coupling in Special Operations Forces (SOF) combat Soldiers. We studied 100 SOF combat Soldiers [age = 33.5 ± 4.3 years; height = 180.4 ± 6.0 cm; 55 (55.0%) with self-reported concussion history]. We employed transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasound to assess neurovascular coupling (NVC) via changes in posterior cerebral artery (PCA) velocity in response to a reading and a visual search task. Baseline TCD data were collected for 2 min. NVC was quantified by the percent change in overall PCA response curves. We employed linear mixed effect models using a linear spline with one knot to assess group differences in percent change observed in the PCA velocity response curves between SOF combat Soldiers with and without a concussion history. Baseline PCA velocity did not significantly differ (t98 = 1.28, p = 0.20) between those with and without concussion history. Relative PCA velocity response curves did not differ between those with and without a concussion history during the reading task (F1,98 = 0.80, p = 0.37) or the visual search task (F1,98 = 0.52, p = 0.47). When assessing only SOF combat Soldiers with a concussion history, differential response to task was significantly greater in those with 3 or more concussions (F1,4341 = 27.24, p < 0.0001) relative to those with 1-2 concussions. Despite no main effect of concussion history on neurovascular coupling response in SOF combat Soldiers, we observed a dose-response based on lifetime concussion incidence. While long-term neurophysiological effects associated with head impact and blast-related injury are currently unknown, assessing NVC response may provide further insight into cerebrovascular function and overall physiological health.