Alterations in Knee Sensorimotor Brain Functional Connectivity Contributes to Acl Injury in Male High-School Football Players: A Prospective Neuroimaging Analysis

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© 2019 Associação Brasileira de Pesquisa e Pós-Graduação em Fisioterapia Objective: This study's purpose was to utilize a prospective dataset to examine differences in functional brain connectivity in male high school athletes who suffered an ACL anterior cruciate ligament injury relative to their non-injured peers. Methods: Sixty-two male high school football players were evaluated using functional magnetic resonance imaging prior to their competitive season to evaluate resting-state functional brain connectivity. Three athletes later experienced an ACL injury and were matched to 12 teammates who did not go on to sustain an ACL injury (controls) based on school, age, height, weight, and year in school. Twenty-five knee-motor regions of interest (ROIs) were created to identify differences in connectivity between the two groups. Between-subject F and t tests were used to identify significant ROI differences using a false discovery rate correction for multiple comparisons. Results: There was significantly less connectivity between the left secondary somatosensory cortex and the left supplementary motor area (p = 0.025), right pre-motor cortex (p = 0.026), right supplementary motor area (p = 0.026), left primary somatosensory cortex (superior division; p = 0.026), left primary somatosensory cortex (inferior division; p = 0.026), and left primary motor cortex (p = 0.048) for the ACL-injured compared to the control subjects. No other ROI-to-ROI comparisons were significantly different between the groups (all p > 0.05). Conclusion: Our preliminary data indicate a potential sensorimotor disruption for male football players who go on to experience an ACL injury. Future studies with larger sample sizes and complimentary measures of neuromuscular control are needed to support these findings.