Findings May Enable Development of Targeted Therapies for Brain Injury

Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System report success in predicting the recovery course of patients with recent traumatic brain injury, including concussion, using an advanced imaging technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). The findings additionally illuminate the brain’s mechanisms for repairing concussion injury, and may be important keys in the development of currently unavailable therapies. Study author Michael Lipton, MD, PhD, said of the work “While we still lack effective treatments, we now have a better understanding of the neurological mechanisms that underlie a favorable response to concussion, which opens a new window on how to look at therapies and to measure their effectiveness.” The findings were published online last week in the American Journal of Neuroradiology.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that 2.5 million Americans sustain traumatic brain injuries each year, 75% of which are concussions. Typical symptoms, which can vary widely in duration and intensity, include seizures, trouble sleeping, decreased coordination, repeated vomiting or nausea, confusion, and slurred speech. With no objective biomarker, diagnosis has been based on symptom assessment. But the present research demonstrated that, in contrast to conventional CT scans or MRI, DTI enables the detection of concussion-related damage to axons and further that these detected abnormalities enabled an accurate prediction of prognosis for recovery. Dr Lipton noted “Seventy to 85 percent of concussion patients get better by themselves, which makes it difficult to learn whether any treatment is actually helping. Our imaging technique allows researchers to test potential therapies on those concussion patients who can truly benefit from them.” A news story about the study may be read here. The article abstract may be accessed here.

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