Brain structure and function linked to the history of sports injury
The need to understand the probable long term effects of sports injury on young athletes is rising. But, there is not much data available on the brain irregularities linked to history of injury and how it is related to the clinical factors.
In order to cater this great area of unmet need, scientists used advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to systematically define abnormalities in brain structure and function associated with a history of sport concussion. The study comprised 43 athletes recruited from inter-university teams, out of which 21 had a history of injury and 22 without prior injury, both groups also contained a balanced sample of contact and non-contact sports.
Irregularities in brain structure and function were assessed by multi-modal MRI. A significant frontal decrease in brain volume and blood flow was seen in athletes with a history of sport injury. However, an increased posterior cortical volume and elevated markers of white matter microstructure were also noted. A higher number of prior injuries were linked to more extensive decreases in cerebral blood flow and insular volume, while retrieval time from most recent injury was associated with reduced fronto-temporal volume. The matter demonstrated limited associations with clinical factors, mainly in the anterior corona radiata.
The results of the study provided the first proof for the overall sports community about the long-term effects of concussion on grey matter volume, blood flow and white matter microstructure within a single athlete cohort.