A recent study by the NYU Langone School of Medicine showed that a single, concussive episode causes measurable volume loss to the brain. Although some routine clinical imaging may not be able to reveal it, even “after a mild traumatic brain injury,” says Yvonne W. Lui, M.D., Neuroradiology section chief and assistant professor radiology at NYU Langone School of Medicine, “there is a true structural injury to the brain.”
The NYU study showed that patients with a mild traumatic brain injury had measurable global and regional brain atrophy at one year following the concussion. Changes in structural volume over the first year after a concussive episode correlate with cognitive changes in memory, attention, and anxiety. Two particular areas of the brain, the anterior cingulate and precorneal regions, are the areas of the brain that regulate the mood, including depression, and the executive function for higher-order thinking, respectively. These areas suffered correlating structural and functional changes in patients who suffered a mild traumatic brain injury.
Identifying structural changes to the brain can be shown by a number of imaging techniques, but a relatively new imaging technique, called MEG, is capable of displaying a much more thorough map of the brain, versus an MRI. The Journal of Neurosurgery recently published that this new, MEG imaging technique (also called rapid automated resting-state magnetoencephalography imaging), has revealed “abnormally decreased functional connectivity,” and possible long-term brain damage persisting from a single, mild traumatic brain injury.
Accordingly, a single concussive episode can change the structure of these areas of the brain and more, which correlates to brain dysfunction. Brain dysfunction can take a cascading effect on a person’s life, his or her productivity at work, and the lives of friends and loved ones. A person who suffers from a mild traumatic brain injury can experience such an array of challenges.