To compare heart rate variability (HRV) in healthy male and female athletes with versus without a history of concussion.
A cross-sectional study of 113 healthy interuniversity athletes (n = 62 female; n = 51 male) across nine sports from a single institution, participating within the first half of their respective athletic seasons. Concussion history was determined by self-report (males: yes = 20, no = 31; females: yes = 21, no = 41). HRV was measured over five-minute time intervals in both seated and supine positions. All analyses were adjusted for age.
No differences in HRV were observed in female athletes with versus without a history of concussion; male athletes with a history of concussion displayed a significantly lower mean RR in the seated position compared to athletes with no history of concussion.
In the months-to-years following a concussion, HRV does not appear to be significantly perturbed. However, males with a history of concussion may have a slightly lower mean RR. Future studies evaluating HRV and concussion history should be mindful of the confounding influence of sex and age.