Sarah E. Johnson1, Elisa A. Angeles1, Casey E. Greenwalt1, Shiloah A. Kviatkovsky1, Liliana I. Rentería1, Tucker R. Zeleny2, Michael J. Ormsbee, FACSM1. 1Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. 2University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE.

BACKGROUND: Currently, there is no standard of practice for early detection of COVID-19 in athletes prior to the onset of symptoms or knowledge of exposure. Respiratory rate (RR) and heart rate variability (HRV) are common metrics measured by some wrist-worn activity trackers and are used to monitor health, fitness and recovery in athletes. Abnormal variations in RR are observed in lower-respiratory infections (i.e., COVID-19), and preliminary data suggest that HRV may be linked to early detection of COVID-19 infection. Thus, wrist-worn activity trackers may be an effective, non-invasive method to detect COVID-19 infection prior to a positive test. PURPOSE: To determine the effectiveness of wrist-worn wearable technology for early detection of COVID-19 in Division 1 NCAA female athletes, through monitoring of RR, HRV, resting heart rate (RHR) and recovery scores. METHODS: Retrospective data from division I NCAA female athletes who tested positive for COVID-19 (N=33; age range: 18-24) during the 2020-2021 season (August 2020 to May 2021) were analyzed. Only those who had complete activity tracker (WHOOP, Inc) data (N=14) were used for these preliminary analyses. Baseline data (14 days) were used to standardize data from 14 days prior to a positive COVID-19 test result. Standardization was calculated by subtracting means and dividing by standard deviations for RR, HRV, RHR and recovery scores. These standardized results were then averaged for the total sample population by the number of days prior to a positive test result to determine average standard deviation from baseline each day prior to a positive test result for each metric. RESULTS: Three days prior to testing positive for COVID-19, deviations from the mean in the following metrics were observed: increase in RR (sd: 0.65-1.07), decrease in HRV (sd: 0.13-0.66), increase in RHR (sd: -0.03-1.0) and decrease in recovery score (sd: -0.54-0.02). CONCLUSION: For the first time, use of wearable technology may be used, as part of a multifaceted approach, for the early detection of a positive COVID-19 test through monitoring of RR, HRV, RHR and recovery scores. Many factors other than COVID-19 may influence these variables, however, in applied sport settings, these data may be important to the sports medicine team for overall team health and safety. This study was supported by WHOOP, Inc.

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