According to a news release issued by McGill University, researchers based at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital-The Neuro, at McGill University and the MUHC, are currently working to develop a tool to help diagnose concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs) sustained by many young Canadians, including hockey and football players.

“…Our study provides valuable data for creating a tool to help diagnose concussions objectively and thus aid in assessing recovery,” says Rajeet Singh Saluja, MD, CM, FRCSC, neurosurgeon, the study’s first author working under the guidance of Alain Ptito, PhD, a neuropsychologist whose laboratory is at The Neuro.

The release reports that the study encompassed a total of fifty adolescents. Fifteen subjects with concussion and 35 controls participated in the study. In addition to standard neuropsychological testing given to concussion victims, a navigational memory test was administered in which the adolescents had to orient themselves in a virtual reality neighborhood. During this test, the release says subjects were scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure their brain activity while carrying out the task.

Saluja and Ptito explain in the release that standard neuropsychological tests exhibited no significant differences between concussed and control subjects.

“But during the navigational memory task, certain parts of the brains of subjects with concussion showed altered activation patterns, either diminished or increased activity. We still need to know whether the activation patterns later return to normal or remain permanently altered, but this could provide the basis of a robust diagnostic test for children suffering from concussions and aid in evaluating recovery,” they say.

According to the release, the study’s conclusion indicates that the spatial memory task has the potential to be used as an fMRI diagnostic test of a suspected concussion victim and help to make the decision whether to return to activities.

Source(s): EurekAlert, McGrill University