Research Article
Volume 12 Issue 1 - 2021
Heart Rate Variability: A Possible Biomarker to Detect Head Injury Severity
Janet S Dufek* and Warren Forbes
Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences, School of Integrated Health Sciences, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV, USA
*Corresponding Author: Janet S Dufek, Office of Faculty Affairs, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV, USA.
Received:November 23, 2020; Published: January 28, 2021


Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between the temporal variation in heart beats termed heart rate variability (HRV) and magnitude of head impact severity. 

Background: Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) account for over 56,000 deaths annually in the United States.  Following injury, considerable attention is taken to assess the severity of damage to the brain. Current evaluation techniques are not only costly but may also impose the risk of exposure to high levels of radiation. Thus, development of a less invasive and lower-cost TBI diagnostic technique would address this health care concern.  Given the known relationship between autonomic nervous system (ANS) control and cardiac function, we hypothesized any disruption in ANS control due to TBI may be reflected in heart rate response. Thus, HRV may serve as a key biomarker to assess TBI severity.  

Materials and Methods: After granting institutionally approved consent, nine healthy male volunteers with no history of lower extremity injury were instrumented with a heart rate monitor and a forehead mounted accelerometer. Five minutes of quiet sitting (rest) was completed during which time heart rate was monitored. This was followed by continuous performance of landing off of a 45 cm platform onto a hard tile floor under two conditions: 1) soft landings, and 2) stiff landings.  A five-minute rest period was interjected between landing conditions and following stiff landings. During landing, heart rate and head acceleration were continuously monitored. Dependent variables included maximum head acceleration (HA), standard deviation of R-R intervals (RRsd), and the root mean square of R-R intervals (RMSsd) in the time domain and high and low frequency power in the frequency domain. Repeated measures analysis of variance (α = 0.05) was used to assess differences among conditions. Correlations between HA and the indices of HRV were also computed.  Results: RRsd for both soft and stiff landings was significantly less than resting conditions (p=0.007 and p=0.001 respectively). A significant correlation was identified between HAstiff and RMSsd (r=-0.664, p = 0.026). Conclusion: HRV was shown to be a potentially effective, non-invasive biomarker to quantify head impact severity.

Keywords:  Concussion; Falls; Head Acceleration; Landing


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Citation: Janet S Dufek and Warren Forbes. “Heart Rate Variability: A Possible Biomarker to Detect Head Injury Severity”.EC Orthopaedics 12.2 (2021): 21-25.

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