A preliminary study into the utility of a portable, commercial grade EEG system for use in sports: effects of exercise and implications for sports related concussion
Concussion is a brain injury and is defined as a “complex pathophysiological process affecting the brain, induced by biomechanical forces.” Concussion diagnosis is problematic and is currently a highly subjective clinical decision based on presenting signs and symptoms. Current assessment concussion assessment techniques are deficient. Neuropsychological tests, whilst portable, have problems with sensitivity, reliability, and susceptibility to athlete tampering. Imaging techniques such as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalogram (EEG) are sensitive to structural and functional brain changes due to concussion but are not suitable fieldside tests. The Emotiv EPOC+ is a portable EEG recording system that was tested in this study. Firstly, a comparison of the EPOC+ to a Biosemi system showed that like the research-grade Biosemi system, EPOC+ can record a steady state visual evoked potential (SSVEP) response to flickering (15Hz) stimuli. Secondly, the method developed for testing SSVEP response using EPOC+ showed no significant change in response when testing was carried out before and after high intensity exercise. The current study highlights the advantage of using portable EEG over neuropsychological testing and sets a platform for the development of a new concussion assessment tool.