The first week after concussion: Blood flow, brain function and white matter microstructure



First study of acute concussion using fMRI, DTI and ASL in a single cohort

Lack of reliable mean effects of concussion, indicating variability of acute injury

Number of days post-injury is a significant predictor of acute brain variability.



Concussion is a major health concern, associated with short-term deficits in physical function, emotion and cognition, along with negative long-term health outcomes. However, we remain in the early stages of characterizing MRI markers of concussion, particularly during the first week post-injury when symptoms are most severe. In this study, 52 varsity athletes were scanned using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), including 26 athletes with acute concussion (scanned 1–7 days post-injury) and 26 matched control athletes. A comprehensive set of functional and structural MRI measures were analyzed, including cerebral blood flow (CBF) and global functional connectivity (Gconn) of grey matter, along with fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) of white matter. An analysis comparing acutely concussed athletes and controls showed limited evidence for reliable mean effects of acute concussion, with only MD showing spatially extensive differences between groups. We subsequently demonstrated that the number of days post-injury explained a significant proportion of inter-subject variability in MRI markers of acutely concussed athletes. Athletes scanned at early acute injury (1–3 days) had elevated CBF and Gconn and reduced FA, but those scanned at late acute injury (5–7 days) had the opposite response. In contrast, MD showed a more complex, spatially-dependent relationship with days post-injury. These novel findings highlight the variability of MRI markers during the acute phase of concussion and the critical importance of considering the acute injury time interval, which has significant implications for studies relating acute MRI data to concussion outcomes.


  • Concussion
  • MRI
  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Functional MRI
  • Diffusion tensor imaging

Autor / Fonte:Nathan W Churchill, Michael G Hutchison, Doug Richards, General Leung, Simon J Graham, Tom A Schweizer NeuroImage: Clinical 2017, 14: 480-489