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Brain connectivity changes linked to mild TBI: Study

Study shows changes in brain connectivity may aid in diagnosis of mild traumatic brain injury.

By Amy Wallace
Researchers have found changes in brain connectivity can help diagnose mild traumatic brain injury in patients. Photo by sfam_photo/Shutterstock
Researchers have found changes in brain connectivity can help diagnose mild traumatic brain injury in patients. Photo by sfam_photo/Shutterstock

Feb. 23 (UPI) -- A collaborative study has found that brain connectivity changes could help doctors diagnose mild traumatic brain injury, or mTBI, even without brain lesions present.

Brain connectivity is a pattern of anatomical links of interactions between distinct portions of the nervous system.

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Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, the University of Texas, Austin, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Antwerp University Hospital in Belgium collaborated on the study that showed patients with mTBI may exhibit changes in brain connectivity detected at the time of injury.

The study found differences in brain connectivity in patients with mTBI compared to healthy patients, including different patterns depending on the presence of brain lesions.

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The study was {link:published in the Journal of Neurotrauma. : "http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/neu.2016.4752" target="_blank"}

"While, as the authors acknowledge, they are not the first group to explore the utility of resting state functional MRI in probing the morbidity associated with mild traumatic brain injury, they do elegantly capitalize on the TRACK-TBI study population to critically evaluate functional connectivity in a patient population that is well characterized and followed by traditional imaging approaches," John T. Povlishock, Ph.D., professor in the Medical College of Virginia Commonwealth University and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neurotrauma, said in a press release.

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"Their finding of altered patterns of functional connectivity even in that mild TBI patient population, revealing no CT/MRI abnormalities, is an extremely important observation, as is the fact that these changes in functional connectivity portend the development of a persistent post-concussive syndrome."

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Researchers said by analyzing changes in brain connectivity, they can diagnose and predict the long-term effects of mTBI on cognitive and behavioral factors.

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