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Diffusion Tensor Imaging Finds Brain Damage Other Tests Miss

by Lynn Shapiro, Writer | September 01, 2009

DTI revealed abnormal brain regions in 15 of the concussion patients, while no abnormal regions were found in controls. Most important, the presence of major areas of structural damage in concussion patients (as shown by large alterations in normal water diffusion using DTI) predicted low scores on their executive-function tests. These damaged areas were located mainly in the brain's prefrontal cortex, which is essential for normal executive function and is susceptible to injury in concussion.

Personality Change and Executive Function

Each year, more than one million Americans sustain a concussion (technically referred to as mild traumatic brain injury). Concussions in adults result mainly from motor vehicle accidents or falls. While most people recover from concussions with no lasting ill effects, as many as 30 percent suffer permanent impairment -- undergoing a personality change or suffering an impairment in executive function. (Executive function enables people to make future plans. Patients suffering from traumatic brain injury are often unable to plan an event, for example.)

A 2003 Federal study called concussions "a serious public health problem" that costs the U.S. an estimated $80 billion a year.

"The group's paper, "Diffusion tensor imaging implicates prefrontal axonal injury in executive dysfunction following mild traumatic brain injury," appears in the August 26 print edition of Radiology.

Source: Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University

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