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Scans Shed New Light on Concussions

Technology helps detect hidden brain damage, study shows

FRIDAY, Aug. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they've discovered a new way to detect evidence of brain damage after concussions, potentially paving the way toward more effective treatments for head injuries.

By detecting damage from concussions early with the help of the latest brain scanning technology, doctors could begin cognitive rehabilitation treatment and prevent complications, study author Dr. Michael Lipton, an associate director of the Gruss Magnetic Resonance Research Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, explained in a university news release.

An estimated 1 million Americans suffer from concussions each year, often as a result of accidents and mishaps at sporting events. It can be difficult for doctors to gauge the severity of concussions since symptoms can appear much later; an estimated 30 percent suffer permanent impairment.

In the new study, researchers used diffusion tensor imaging to scan the brains of 20 people who experienced concussions and 20 healthy people.

MRI and CT scans showed no signs of trouble in the brains of the concussion patients, but the diffusion tensor imaging scans did in 15 of them.

"For the first time, we appear to be able to identify the subtle pathology sometimes caused by concussion, providing researchers a 'pathology target' for the development of therapies to reduce or eliminate the damage," study co-author Craig Branch, director of the Gruss Magnetic Resonance Research Center, said in the news release.

The findings appear in the Aug. 26 issue of Radiology.

More information

Learn more about concussions from the Nemours Foundation.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, news release, Aug. 24, 2009

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