MRI detects changes in post-concussion syndrome patients

Magnetic resonance imaging can detect changes in the brains of people with post-concussion syndrome, according to a study published online in the journal Radiology.

According to the authors, post-concussion syndrome affects 20 to 30 percent of the people who suffer mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). But, conventional neuroimaging can't determine which MTBI patients will develop post-concussion syndrome.

"Conventional imaging with CT or MRI is pretty much normal in MTBI patients, even though some go on to develop symptoms, including severe cognitive problems," Yulin Ge, an associate professor with the department of radiology at New York University's school of medicine said in an announcement. "We want to try to better understand why and how these symptoms arise."

Ge and his colleagues used resting state functional MRI to image 23 patients with MTBI who had post-traumatic symptoms shortly after their injuries, and compared those to 18 age-matched healthy patients. Resting state MRI state is believed to involve connections among a number of regions, with the default mode network (DMN) playing a particularly important role. "Baseline DMN is very important for information processing and maintenance," Ge said.

The results of the MRI showed that communication and information integration were disrupted among DMN structures after injury, but that the brain compensated for this impaired function.

"We found decreased functional connectivity in the posterior network of the brain and increased connectivity in the anterior component, probably due to functional compensation in patients with PCS," Ge said. "The reduced posterior connectivity correlated positively with neurocognitive dysfunction."

Ge said he hopes that these kinds of studies eventually can lead to the development of treatments for restoring cognitive functionality in those suffering post-concussion syndrome.

To learn more:
- see the article in Radiology
- read the announcement

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