Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2023 Aug 7. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000003274. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: To determine the effect of exercise on cognitive and motor performance and the subsequent test-retest reliability of a novel dual-task (DT) assessment in non-concussed college students.
METHODS: Sixty (53.3% female) non-concussed college students with an average age (+standard deviation) of 20.5 ± 1.34 years, height = 171.7 ± 9.33 cm, mass = 69.3 ± 12.23 kg). Participants were assigned to an exercise (n = 30) or rest (n = 30) intervention group and completed two study visits that were separated by a two-week test-retest interval. At each visit, participants completed a novel DT assessment that consisted of the concurrent administration of the Standardized Assessment of Concussion (SAC) and tandem gait (TG) prior to the exercise or rest intervention. Following the DT assessment at the first visit, participants in the exercise group performed moderate intensity exercise while the rest group sat quietly for 30 minutes. Following the intervention, both groups were readministered the DT assessment. At the second visit, the same procedures were followed except for each group was administered the opposite intervention (e.g., the exercise group completed the rest intervention). A composite TG (cTG) score was calculated by summing the average time to complete the TG pattern during each SAC domain (immediate memory, digits backwards, months in reverse order, delayed recall). A one-way analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was conducted to assess post-intervention differences while controlling for pre-intervention performance. Test-retest reliability was assessed using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC3,2) with 95% confidence intervals with all analyses performed with α = 0.05.
RESULTS: SAC and cTG performance was similar (p’s > 0.05) from pre- to post-intervention for the rest or exercise protocols. Good (rest:ICC = 0.77[0.62,0.87]; exercise: ICC = 0.84[0.73,0.90]) and excellent (rest: ICC = 0.97[0.94,0.98]; exercise: ICC = 0.93[0.88,0.96]) test-retest reliability were observed for the SAC composite score and cTG score, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: Our DT assessment was robust to the influence of moderate intensity exercise and demonstrated good-to-excellent test-retest reliability in a healthy collegiate sample.