Author: Chung, Polly Yee Man
Title: Neuromotor control in Taekwondo practitioners of different training levels
Degree: M.Phil.
Year: 2012
Subject: Tae kwon do.
Motor ability.
Human mechanics.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Rehabilitation Sciences
Pages: xv, 139 leaves : ill. (some col.) ; 30 cm.
Language: English
Abstract: Reaction time is an important part of neuromotor control mechanism which is regarded to be indicative of sports expertise. However, the effects of sports training on different components including premotor reaction time (PRT), electromechanical delay (EMD) and neuromotor delay were not well investigated. Taekwondo (TKD) is a hard-style martial art distinguished for its powerful kicking techniques. As a combat sport, neuromotor control of the body is an important factor in execution of powerful kicks and maintenance of balance during combat fighting. In light of the importance of neuromotor control and reaction time to the performance in this sport, this study examined the difference in total reaction time (TRT), PMT, EMD and neuromotor excitability in TKD practitioners of different skill levels and comparing them with non-athletes. The first part of this study validated a method for measuring lower limb reaction time. The reliability and concurrent validity of an accelerometer were investigated. Twelve able-bodied subjects volunteered in this study. The lower limb movement onset time in response to an audio signal was measured by accelerometer and VICON 3D motion analysis system simultaneously. Each subject performed 5 trials and the test-retest reliability was assessed with ICC₃,₁. Agreement between the two instruments was assessed with ICC₂,₁and limits of agreement. The mean motor reaction time measured by the accelerometer and VICON was 205.0ms and 196.9ms, respectively. Good reliability was found in accelerometer with ICC value equals to 0.739 (p<0.001). The mean difference in movement onset time between two instruments was 8ms and there was good agreement with mean ICC value of 0.77. The 95% limits of agreement between the two instruments ranged from -56.4 to 72.5ms. It is concluded that accelerometer is a reliable tool for measuring lower limb movement onset times. However, the limits of agreement between the measurements recorded by the instruments were large, thus the absolute movement onset timing derived from these methods should not be used interchangeably.
The main study consisted of three groups, namely, professional TKD practitioners (n=20), amateur TKD practitioners (n=20), and non-athletes (n=20). The reaction times of rectus femoris (RF) and flexor pollicis brevis (FPB) in response to audio stimulus, general and sport-specific visual stimuli were tested. The audio stimulus was a plain 'beep' sound, the general visual stimulus was a coloured circle appearing randomly on a computer screen, whereas the sport-specific stimulus was an attack motion image preceded by images of an TKD athlete in guarding position presented in random order on a computer screen. Movement onset of the thumb and leg were detected by the subject pressing a thumb switch with the dominant hand and kicking the dominant leg, respectively. Surface electromyography (EMG) of FPB and RF were recorded. The TRT was measured from the onset of stimulus to movement onset. The time between appearance of the stimuli and EMG onset was denoted as PMT and the time lapse between EMG onset and movement onset was the EMD. Neuromotor excitability was measured with the electrical stimulation strength duration testing. FPB and RF were electrically stimulated by square wave stimulus with inter-pulse duration of 1 second. The current intensity that induced minimal muscle contraction at pulse duration 200ms was defined as rheobase and this was compared among the groups. The differences in TRT, PMT, EMD and rheobase between three groups were analyzed with ANCOVA with body height as the covariate. Results showed that professional TKD practitioners have shorter TRT than non-athletes with sport-specific visual stimuli but they have longer PRT and TRT in response to audio stimuli than amateur practitioners and non-athlete groups. Professional practitioners have significantly longer EMD than amateurs to audio (p=0.032) and sports-specific visual stimuli (p=0.03) in FPB. Professional TKD practitioners have lower rheobase in RF (p<0.001) and higher rheobase in FPB (p<0.001) than amateurs and non-athletes. From the present results, it is concluded that professional TKD practitioners have faster reaction to sports-specific stimulus in both the trained and untrained muscles and higher neuromotor excitability in the trained muscles. They react slower to non-sport specific stimuli, which suggested a decreased sensitivity to irrelevant sensory inputs after intensive TKD training.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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