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Evidence of post-concussion compensation within the brain found
Wednesday November 28, 2012


Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and Montefiore Medical Center have found that a special magnetic resonance imaging technique may be able to predict which patients who have experienced concussions will improve. The results, which were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, suggest that, in some patients, the brain may change to compensate for the damage caused by the injury.

Following a concussion, some patients experience a brief loss of consciousness. Other symptoms include headache, dizziness, memory loss, attention deficit, depression and anxiety. Some of these conditions may persist for months or even years in up to 30% of patients.

The Einstein study involved 17 patients brought to Montefiore and Jacobi Medical Centers and diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries. Within two weeks of their injuries, the patients underwent diffusion tensor imaging, which allows researchers to measure the uniformity of water movement (fractional anisotropy) throughout the brain. Areas of low FA indicate axonal injury while areas of abnormally high FA indicate changes in the brain.

Abnormally low FA within white matter has been correlated with cognitive impairment in concussion patients. The researchers said they believe that high FA is evidence not of axonal injury, but of brain changes that are occurring in response to the trauma.

One year after their brain injuries, the patients completed two standard questionnaires to assess their post-concussion symptoms and evaluate their health status and quality of life. Comparing the DTI data to the patient answers, the researchers found that the presence of abnormally high FA predicted fewer post-concussion symptoms and better functioning. The results suggest that the brain may be actively compensating for its injuries in patients who exhibit areas of high FA on DTI.

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Wednesday November 28, 2012
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