Associate Professor – La Trobe University
Alan Pearce PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation, Nutrition and Sport, School of Allied Health at La Trobe University.Alan is a neurophysiologist whose primary research focus is on sports-related concussion. Specifically his research program, using electro physiological techniques, particularly transcranial magnetic stimulation, centres on brain physiology to quantify cognitive and motor impairments in the acute phase post-concussion, and chronic manifestations of repeated concussions associated with mental health and neurological impairment. With 20 years experience in TMS and electrophysiology techniques, Alan also investigates neuroplastic changes following peripheral injury, balance disorders, exercise interventions and rehabilitation. Alan has won ~3 million dollars in collaborative research funding and currently has over 130 peer-reviewed publications. Alan is regarded internationally for his research work in sports-related concussion, with invited and keynote presentations at concussion and brain injury conferences. He is a sought-after commentator in national and international media on issues surrounding sports-related concussion.
Sports-related concussion: A neurophysiological perspective
There is growing community concern regarding the issue of sports-related concussion. The main objective of this presentation will be to discuss the contribution of neurophysiological research, in particular quantifying cortical excitability with evoked potentials via the technique of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), in sports related concussion. TMS is a non-invasive, safe, and relatively inexpensive technique, providing painless stimulation of the human central nervous system, allowing for the assessment of the integrity of intracortical neurons. Over the last 38 years TMS has been used extensively in experimental neurology, neuroscience, and psychiatry, with sports medicine embracing the technique regularly in the past fifteen years. This presentation will have three main sections:
1) TMS studies in former contact-sport athletes with a history of repeated concussions;
2) neurophysiological response and recovery timelines in the acute phase (up to 14 days) following a concussion injury; and
3) exploring cortical excitability and inhibitory responses in persistent post-concussion syndrome. Across these three sections, the aim will be to demonstrate the efficacy and reliability of TMS as an accessible and inexpensive technology in understanding the neurophysiological mechanisms of sports-related concussion.