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MRI Scans Reveal Distinct Brain Injuries After Concussion

Sorting concussion patients based on internal brain injury could help doctors identify those with more severe cases.

Brain scans may be able to detect two distinct kinds of brain injury in patients who have suffered a mild head injury or concussion, say researchers from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Differentiating between the two may help doctors better treat patients.

Neurologist Gunjan Parikh and his colleagues found some concussion patients had streak-like or linear injuries that they hypothesize are a type of blood vessel injury related to injuries seen in brains after severe head trauma. These linear injuries, which were typically seen in one particular region of the brain after mild traumatic injuries, were distinct from punctuate “microbleeds” that were found in many areas of the brain.

“We were able to get these MRI’s very early, on average [within] 17 hours,” says Parikh. But typically, many patients with mild traumatic brain injury will not get this kind of scan, he says. The results suggest  MRI scans could be useful in finding patients who need additional treatment.

“We should start considering non-invasive imaging as part of the standard protocol,” says Parikh.

“The next step is to use imaging to separate out patients within a couple hours of injury,” he says, to find those mild head trauma patients who have the types of injury that are seen in the brain of people with severe head trauma.

Parikh will present the results in a poster session at the American Academy of Neurology meeting on Wednesday, March 20.

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