For concussion sufferers, even those who never lost consciousness, physicians may now be able to predict early on who is more likely to continue experiencing symptoms months or years after the head-jarring event, using a new non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) method devised by a consortium of researchers led by UC San Francisco scientists.
In their new study the researchers used functional MRI (fMRI), coupled with sophisticated statistical analysis, to track activity in the brain networks of 75 patients, aged 18 to 55, within the first two weeks of their having experienced concussions.
The study revealed tell-tale patterns of brain activity that, six months later, were associated with worse performance on behavioural and cognitive tests and were different from patterns seen in healthy control subjects.
The fMRI method and analysis developed for the study highlighted abnormal patterns of brain activity that pointed to a higher risk for long-term, post-concussive symptoms, even among the 44 study participants who had no evidence of bleeding or bruising in the brain in the immediate aftermath of brain trauma on computed tomography (CT) or ordinary MRI scans.
“This is an exploratory, proof-of-concept study showing that we can identify patients soon after mild brain trauma who may have more persistent symptoms, despite no other evidence of injury within the brain,” said Pratik Mukherjee, MD, PhD, professor of radiology and biomedical imaging at UCSF and the senior author of the study. “We may be able to use this information to help guide treatment decisions and counselling of patients early on, when it may be more effective.”
Only subjects who had lost consciousness for less than 30 minutes were eligible for the study, and many study subjects never lost consciousness during their injury.
University of California – San Franciscohttp://tinyurl.com/yc6cfxrn