Diffuse Tensor Imaging

ABC News was reporting a breakthrough on imaging of the brain, diffuse tensor imaging.  As one can see DTI was one of our first posts on this site in 2010 – so it is not new as the beginning of the article claims.  However the report describes why this research is different from the previous efforts;

While the data showing that diffuse tensor imaging can distinguish unique brain abnormalities has been previously reported, the researchers took their study one step further and found that a new way of looking at the information from these scans — an approach known as functional anisotropy, or FA for short — can reveal whether the brain may have swelling.

Intriguingly, in a separate group of patients included in the study, people with concussions still had evidence of brain injury over one year after their head injury.

“The unique thing about this study is that there are brain abnormalities [still present] at multiple time points,” said Dr. Jeff Bazarian, an associate professor of neurology and neurosurgery at the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y. “This highlights that the brain is abnormal on a cellular level for a long time.”

If and when massive control groups can be sought out to back up this information (highly probable in my opinion) we will then begin to understand what trauma to the brain is doing in real-time and how long the effects are lasting.  This indeed would be a breakthrough with many applications: immediate evaluation and objective findings, serial testing, return to play, and thresholds.

In general, Lipton said, this study raises awareness that even seemingly benign head injuries can lead to widespread brain abnormalities.

“A concussion which is seemingly quite mild is accompanied by real changes,” he said.