Researchers at Harvard have been looking into new imaging techniques for the brain. When it was developed, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was/is being used for schizophrenic patients for its ability to look into the white matter of the brain.
As we posted in “What Happen In A Concussion?” the white matter is where a lot of the changes occur. With current technologies the white matter does not show up due to its density and reflectivity under normal MRI/CT imaging.
Rebecca Greenfield of The Atlantic wrote an article that made press about 10 minutes ago about the DTI imaging and how it may help with minor head trauma and concussions.
Neuroscientists are coming to realize that brain injuries are far more complicated than once thought. While severe concussions have long been the metric for trauma, many small hits to the brain can cause disorders, too — and they are wickedly difficult to diagnose.
Since this imaging has proven more sensitive to white matter pathology in schizophrenic patients, it is a promising detection technique for mild traumatic brain injuries–which show up in the white matter — and might be useful in discerning subtle brain disorders resulting from mild brain trauma, like chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Researchers believe CTE develops as a result of repetitive head trauma that causes brain tissue degeneration and large accumulations of abnormal tau proteins, which trigger depression, loss of impulse control, paranoia, and other symptoms of dementia.
Since Dr. Shenton’s lab already uses this technology to site brain abnormalities in schizophrenic patients, she’s hopeful that it will work for concussed patients too. She’s part of a clinical consortium that studies post traumatic stress disorder caused by primary blast injuries and she’s already involved in an NFL player study with the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. The NFL study will compare retired football players who experienced many collisions, such as linemen, with those who didn’t, such as kickers. The study will employ DTI, along with other measures, to evaluate the likely differing brains.
Image and text in quotes republished from The Atlantic website.