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Brain changes found in football players thought to be concussion-free


The research team identified 11 players who either were diagnosed by a physician as having a concussion, received an unusually high number of impacts to the head or received an unusually hard impact. Of those 11 players, three were diagnosed with concussions during the course of the season, four showed no changes and four showed changes in brain function.

"So half of the players who appeared to be uninjured still showed changes in brain function," Leverenz said. "These four players showed significant brain deficits. Technically, we aren't calling the impairment concussions because that term implies very specific clinical symptoms, such as losing consciousness or having trouble walking and speaking. At the same time, our data clearly indicate significant impairment."

The findings support anecdotal evidence that football players not diagnosed with concussions often seem to suffer cognitive impairment.

Researchers evaluated players using a GE Healthcare Signa HDx 3.0T MRI to conduct a type of brain imaging called functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, along with a computer-based neurocognitive screening test.

"We're proud of our association with Purdue and feel longitudinal studies will provide a valuable platform to better study brain injuries," said Jonathan A. Murray, general manager of cross business programs for GE Healthcare.

The research could aid efforts to develop more sensitive and accurate methods for detecting cognitive impairment and concussions; more accurately characterize and model cognitive deficits that result from head impacts; determine the cellular basis for cognitive deficits after a single impact or repeated impacts; and develop new interventions to reduce the risk and effects of head impacts.

"By integrating the fMRI with head-based accelerometers and computer-based cognitive assessment, we are able to detect subtle levels of neurofunctional and neurophysiological ch

Contact: Emil Venere
Purdue University

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