A recent study of active professional NFL players by Weill Cornell Medicine published in the Journal of Neurosurgery on September 6, 2019, found that comparing concussed players’ advanced quantitative diffusion MRI scans with their baseline MRI scans using advanced image analysis may be a key metric for assessing traumatic axonal injury. These results suggest that additional biomarkers beyond the customary concussion protocol which relies primarily on comparison of baseline and post-concussion cognitive testing such as SCAT (Sport Concussion Assessment tool) could be helpful in identifying microstructural changes to the brain.
This new imaging approach uses a special MRI sequence called DTI (diffusion tensor imaging) along with a proprietary software tool developed to most effectively analyze and compare the DTI scans. The software tool along with an athlete’s MRI DTI baseline as a comparison now allows the concussion evaluation to be based upon an objective measure of microstrucural changes inside the brain rather than just subjective concussion symptoms.
MRIBank, licensee of the technology utilized in the study of NFL athletes, is actively seeking professional and college sports teams to implement its unique MRI comparison program into their concussion management program.
Concussions, a type of traumatic brain injury, are a frequent concern for those playing contact sports, from children and teenagers to professional athletes. Mild traumatic brain injury can lead to persistent symptoms; a published study has shown that 22% of concussion victims are not completely recovered after one year. Furthermore, there are 5 million people in the US with long term post-concussion symptoms.
MRIBank and its new image analysis enables reliable comparison with the pre-injury state and can provide a clinicians or trainers with important information about their patient’s condition and readiness to resume athletic activities. This protocol does require a pre-injury image, but in view of the importance of long term brain health, having a baseline MRI-DTI scan is important to athletes playing contact sports at all levels. MRIBank believes that its program will enable athletes, parents, and teams to properly understand and manage their brain health.