Concussion in athletics: ongoing clinical and brain imaging research controversies

Authors: Slobounov S, Gay M, Johnson B, Zhang K.

Concussion, the most common form of traumatic brain injury, proves to be increasingly complex and not mild in nature as its synonymous term mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) would imply. Despite the increasing occurrence and prevalence of mTBI there is no universally accepted definition and conventional brain imaging techniques lack the sensitivity to detect subtle changes it causes. Moreover, clinical management of sports induced mild traumatic brain injury has not changed much over the past decade. Advances in neuroimaging that include electroencephalography (EEG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), resting-state functional connectivity, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) offer promise in aiding research into understanding the complexities and nuances of mTBI which may ultimately influence clinical management of the condition. In this paper the authors review the major findings from these advanced neuroimaging methods along with current controversy within this field of research. As mTBI is frequently associated with youth and sports injury this review focuses on sports-related mTBI in the younger population.

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