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Researchers find evidence that brain compensates after traumatic injury
Date:11/25/2012

ter molecules within and along axons, the nerve fibers that constitute the brain's white matter. DTI allows researchers to measure the uniformity of water movement (called fractional anisotropy or FA) throughout the brain. Areas of low FA indicate axonal injury while areas of abnormally high FA indicate changes in the brain.

"In a traumatic brain injury, it's not one specific area that is affected but multiple areas of the brain which are interconnected by axons," said Dr. Lipton, who is also associate professor of radiology, of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and in the Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience at Einstein. "Abnormally low FA within white matter has been correlated with cognitive impairment in concussion patients. We believe that high FA is evidence not of axonal injury, but of brain changes that are occurring in response to the trauma."

One year after their brain injury, the patients completed two standard questionnaires to assess their post-concussion symptoms and evaluate their health status and quality of life. "Most TBI studies assess cognitive function, but it is not at all clear if and how well such measures assess real-life functioning," said Dr. Lipton. "Our questionnaires asked about post-concussion symptoms and how those symptoms affected patients' health and quality of life."

Comparing the DTI data to the patient questionnaires, the researchers found that the presence of abnormally high FA predicted fewer post-concussion symptoms and better functioning. The results suggest that the brain may be actively compensating for its injuries in patients who exhibit areas of high FA on DTI.

"These results could lead to better treatment for
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Contact: Kim Newman
sciencenews@einstein.yu.edu
718-430-3101
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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