News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | November 02, 2017

Post-Concussion Brain Changes Persist for Pre-Teen Hockey Players

New study finds brains continue to rewire three months later with no symptoms reported

Post-Concussion Brain Changes Persist for Pre-Teen Hockey Players

November 2, 2017 — Young hockey players who have suffered concussions may still show changes in the white matter of the brain months after being cleared to return to play, researchers at Western University have found. These findings were achieved through use of sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques.

The study, published in the Oct. 25, 2017, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, looked at MRI brain scans from 17 Bantam-level hockey players between the ages of 11 and 14, who suffered a concussion during the regular season and who were compared to an age-matched control of non-concussed players.

The athletes underwent brain MRI testing within 24-72 hours of the initial concussion, and again three months post-concussion, at which time all players reported no symptoms on clinical evaluations and were cleared to return to play following the standard concussion consensus Return to Play protocol. Most of the concussions were a result of falls that resulted in a hit to the back of the head.

"What the MRI shows is that there are still changes occurring in the brain even after the clinical tests have returned to normal," said Ravi Menon, Ph.D., professor at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and a scientist at Robarts Research Institute. "This is potentially of some concern and we'd like to understand this further to determine if these are normal healthy changes or if they are indicative of something that might be going wrong."

The advanced MRI data was analyzed by Ph.D. candidate Kathryn Manning at Western's Centre for Functional and Metabolic Mapping at Robarts Research Institute. The team looked at diffusion, functional and spectroscopy MRI data. On both the acute and the three-month scans, researchers observed that the very long fiber tracks in the brains of the concussed players were damaged, and also saw 'hyper-connectivity' in some areas of the brain, suggesting the brain may still have been trying to compensate for the injury.

"We saw that there were prolonged abnormalities in terms of the white matter in the brain," said Manning, noting that these changes are only visible using high field-strength MRI and these sophisticated analytical methods. "On a normal clinical MRI scan, you typically see the structural images of the brain, and for a mild brain injury like a concussion, we aren't able to see the underlying changes we were able to see using these advanced methods."

Lisa Fischer, M.D., assistant professor at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, treats concussions at The Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic, supported by Western University and London Health Sciences Centre. For her, this news is promising for concussion diagnosis. "If we can come up with a clinically-relevant, objective measure for concussion diagnosis and recovery, we can make safer decisions about return to play," she said. "This study has the potential to help develop that."

For more information: www.neurology.org

Related Content

Improved Imaging Technique Could Increase Chances of Prostate Cancer Survival
News | Prostate Cancer | August 20, 2019
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their...
Some Pregnant Women Are Exposed to Gadolinium in Early Pregnancy
News | Women's Health | August 20, 2019
A small but concerning number of women are exposed to a commonly used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent...
New MRI Technique Captures Brain Changes in Near-real Time

Differences in stiffness between stimulus states. Image courtesy of Patz et al.

News | Neuro Imaging | August 19, 2019
An international team of researchers developed a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique that can capture an...
Mobile Stroke Unit Gets Patients Quicker Treatment Than Traditional Ambulance

Image courtesy of UTHealth McGovern Medical School

News | Stroke | August 16, 2019
Every second counts for stroke patients, as studies show they can lose up to 27 million brain cells per minute....
ADHD Medication May Affect Brain Development in Children

Images of regions of interest (colored lines) in the white matter skeleton representation. Data from left and right anterior thalamic radiation (ATR) were averaged. Image courtesy of C. Bouziane et al.

News | Neuro Imaging | August 16, 2019
A drug used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) appears to affect development of the brain’s...
Profound Medical Receives U.S. FDA 510(k) Clearance for Tulsa-Pro
Technology | Interventional Radiology | August 16, 2019
Profound Medical Corp. announced it has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to...
First Patient Enrolled in World's Largest Brain Cancer Clinical Trial
News | Radiation Therapy | August 15, 2019
Henry Ford Cancer Institute is first-in-the-world to enroll a glioblastoma patient in the GBM AGILE Trial (Adaptive...
Efficacy of Isoray's Cesium Blu Showcased in Recent Studies
News | Brachytherapy Systems | August 14, 2019
August 14, 2019 — Isoray announced a trio of studies recently reported at scientific meetings and published in medica