To determine the relationship between neurovascular coupling (NVC), vision and sensory performance in Special Operations Forces (SOF) combat soldiers with and without concussion history. We studied 61 SOF combat soldiers (male, age = 33.8 ± 3.7 years,  = 40 with concussion history [Median = 3; range = 1-10+]). We instrumented our participants with transcranial Doppler to quantify NVC response during reading and visual search tasks. All participants completed vision and sensory performance testing (Senaptec Sensory Station). We performed separate multiple regressions to determine if relationships between NVC and vision and sensory performance testing existed while controlling for concussion history, and to investigate the interaction between NVC and concussion history. Those with higher visual search NVC response magnitudes demonstrated significantly worse contrast sensitivity when controlling for concussion history (=4.57,  = 0.03,  = .04, = 12.6%). We did not observe any other significant relationships between NVC and visual and sensory performance tests nor did we observe any significant interactions between NVC and concussion history ( > .05). Heightened NVC response magnitudes are related to reduced contrast sensitivity in SOF combat soldiers. Because concussion history does not impact the relationships between outcomes, these measures may be utilized for performance evaluation at any point in a soldier’s career. The lack of relationships between NVC response magnitude and some of the other vision and sensory performance outcomes suggests that implementing NVC assessment may add unique information and enable clinicians to detect physiological deficits that may otherwise go undetected.

References

PubMed