The development of prevention strategies is critical to address the rising prevalence of sport-related concussions. Visual and sensory performance may influence an individual’s ability to interpret environmental cues, anticipate opponents’ actions, and create appropriate motor responses limiting the severity of an impending head impact. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between traditional and visual sensory reaction time measures, and the association between visual and sensory performance and head impact severity in college football players. Thirty-eight collegiate football players participated in the study. We used real-time data collection instrumentation to record head impact biomechanics during games and practices. Our findings reveal no significant correlations between reaction time on traditional and visual sensory measures. We found a significant association between head impact severity and level of visual and sensory performance for multiple assessments, with low visual and sensory performers sustaining a higher number of severe head impacts. Our findings reveal a link between level of visual and sensory performance and head impact biomechanics. Future research will allow clinicians to have the most appropriate testing batteries to identify at-risk athletes and create interventions to decrease their risk of injurious head impacts.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
2010–11 High School Athletics Participation Survey, 2011, The National Federation of State High School Associations. pp. 51–66.
Bailes, J. E., and R. C. Cantu. Head injury in athletes. Neurosurgery 48:26–45; discussion 45–46, 2001.
Beckwith, J. G., R. M. Greenwald, and J. J. Chu. Measuring head kinematics in football: correlation between the head impact telemetry system and Hybrid III headform. Ann. Biomed. Eng. 40:237–248, 2012.
Bracken, N. NCAA® Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report, 2007. Indianapolis: The National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Crisco, J. J., J. J. Chu, and R. M. Greenwald. An algorithm for estimating acceleration magnitude and impact location using multiple nonorthogonal single-axis accelerometers. J. Biomech. Eng. 126:849–854, 2004.
Dick, R., M. S. Ferrara, J. Agel, R. Courson, S. W. Marshall, M. J. Hanley, and F. Reifsteck. Descriptive epidemiology of collegiate men’s football injuries: National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System, 1988–1989 through 2003–2004. J. Athl. Train. 42:221–233, 2007.
Duma, S. M., S. J. Manoogian, W. R. Bussone, P. G. Brolinson, M. W. Goforth, J. J. Donnenwerth, R. M. Greenwald, J. J. Chu, and J. J. Crisco. Analysis of real-time head accelerations in collegiate football players. Clin. J. Sport Med. 15:3–8, 2005.
Eckner, J. T., J. S. Kutcher, and J. K. Richardson. Pilot evaluation of a novel clinical test of reaction time in national collegiate athletic association division I football players. J. Athl. Train. 45:327–332, 2010.
Eckner, J. T., R. D. Whitacre, N. L. Kirsch, and J. K. Richardson. Evaluating a clinical measure of reaction time: an observational study. Percept. Mot. Skills 108:717–720, 2009.
Erickson, G. B., K. Citek, M. Cove, J. Wilczek, C. Linster, B. Bjarnason, and N. Langemo. Reliability of a computer-based system for measuring visual performance skills. Optometry 82:528–542, 2011.
Gessel, L. M., S. K. Fields, C. L. Collins, R. W. Dick, and R. D. Comstock. Concussions among United States high school and collegiate athletes. J. Athl. Train. 42:495–503, 2007.
Gualtieri, C. T., and L. G. Johnson. Reliability and validity of a computerized neurocognitive test battery, CNS Vital Signs. Arch. Clin. Neuropsychol. 21:623–643, 2006.
Guskiewicz, K. M., and J. P. Mihalik. Biomechanics of sport concussion: quest for the elusive injury threshold. Exerc. Sport Sci. Rev. 39:4–11, 2011.
Holbourn, A. H. S. The mechanics of brain injuries. Br. Med. Bull. 3:147–149, 1945.
Kabat, M. H., R. L. Kane, A. L. Jefferson, and R. K. DiPino. Construct validity of selected Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics (ANAM) battery measures. Clin. Neuropsychol. 15:498–507, 2001.
Langlois, J. A., W. Rutland-Brown, and M. M. Wald. The epidemiology and impact of traumatic brain injury: a brief overview. J. Head Trauma Rehabil. 21:375–378, 2006.
Martell, S. G., and J. N. Vickers. Gaze characteristics of elite and near-elite athletes in ice hockey defensive tactics. Hum. Mov. Sci. 22:689–712, 2004.
McCrory, P., W. Meeuwisse, K. Johnston, J. Dvorak, M. Aubry, M. Molloy, and R. Cantu. Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport—The 3rd International Conference on Concussion in Sport Held in Zurich, November 2008. PM R, Vol. 1, pp. 406–420, 2009
Mihalik, J. P., D. R. Bell, S. W. Marshall, and K. M. Guskiewicz. Measurement of head impacts in collegiate football players: an investigation of positional and event-type differences. Neurosurgery 61:1229–1235, 2007.
Mihalik, J. P., J. T. Blackburn, R. M. Greenwald, R. C. Cantu, S. W. Marshall, and K. M. Guskiewicz. Collision type and player anticipation affect head impact severity among youth ice hockey players. Pediatrics 125:e1394–e1401, 2010.
Ocwieja, K. E., J. P. Mihalik, S. W. Marshall, J. D. Schmidt, S. C. Trulock, and K. M. Guskiewicz. The effect of play type and collision closing distance on head impact biomechanics. Ann. Biomed. Eng. 2011.
Ommaya, A. K., and T. A. Gennarelli. Cerebral concussion and traumatic unconsciousness. Correlation of experimental and clinical observations of blunt head injuries. Brain 97:633–654, 1974.
Rowson, S., and S. M. Duma. The Virginia tech response. Ann. Biomed. Eng. 40:2512–2518, 2012.
Rowson, S., and S. M. Duma. Brain injury prediction: assessing the combined probability of concussion using linear and rotational head acceleration. Ann. Biomed. Eng. 41:873–882, 2013.
Savelsbergh, G. J., J. Van der Kamp, A. M. Williams, and P. Ward. Anticipation and visual search behaviour in expert soccer goalkeepers. Ergonomics 48:1686–1697, 2005.
Segalowitz, S. J., P. Mahaney, D. L. Santesso, L. MacGregor, J. Dywan, and B. Willer. Retest reliability in adolescents of a computerized neuropsychological battery used to assess recovery from concussion. NeuroRehabilitation 22:243–251, 2007.
Stine, C. D., M. R. Arterburn, and N. S. Stern. Vision and sports: a review of the literature. J. Am. Optom. Assoc. 53:627–633, 1982.
van der Kamp, J. Exploring the merits of perceptual anticipation in the soccer penalty kick. Mot. Control 15:342–358, 2011.
Viano, D. C., C. Withnall, and D. Halstead. Impact performance of modern football helmets. Ann. Biomed. Eng. 40:160–174, 2012.
Williams, A. M., K. Davids, L. Burwitz, and J. G. Williams. Visual search strategies in experienced and inexperienced soccer players. Res. Q. Exerc. Sport 65:127–135, 1994.
Zhang, L., K. H. Yang, and A. I. King. A proposed injury threshold for mild traumatic brain injury. J. Biomech. Eng. 126:226–236, 2004.
Zimmerman, A. B., K. L. Lust, and M. A. Bullimore. Visual acuity and contrast sensitivity testing for sports vision. Eye Contact Lens, 2011.
This study was supported in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment. None of the authors have any financial interest in any of the systems used for this study. We thank Nike for the provision of equipment used in this study.
Associate Editor Stefan M. Duma oversaw the review of this article.
About this article
Cite this article
Harpham, J.A., Mihalik, J.P., Littleton, A.C. et al. The Effect of Visual and Sensory Performance on Head Impact Biomechanics in College Football Players. Ann Biomed Eng 42, 1–10 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10439-013-0881-8
- Injury prevention
- Mild traumatic brain injury
- Sports biomechanics