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Cerebral blood flow in acute concussion: preliminary ASL findings from the NCAA-DoD CARE consortium

Abstract

Sport-related concussion (SRC) has become a major health problem, affecting millions of athletes each year. Despite the increasing occurrence and prevalence of SRC, its underlying mechanism and recovery course have yet to be fully elucidated. The National Collegiate Athletic Association–Department of Defense Grand Alliance: Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium is a large-scale, multisite study of the natural history of concussion across multiple sports. The Advanced Research Core (ARC) of CARE is focused on the advanced biomarker assessment of a reduced subject cohort. This paper reports findings from two ARC sites to evaluate cerebral blood flow (CBF) changes in acute SRC, as measured using advanced arterial spin labeling (ASL) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We compared relative CBF maps assessed in 24 concussed contact sport athletes obtained at 24–48 h after injury to those of a control group of 24 matched contact sport players. Significantly less CBF was detected in several brain regions in concussed athletes, while clinical assessments also indicated clinical symptom and performance impairments in SRC patients. Correlations were found between decreased CBF in acute SRC and clinical assessments, including Balance Error Scoring System total score and Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test memory composite and impulse control composite scores, as well as days from injury to asymptomatic. Although using different ASL MRI sequences, our preliminary results from two sites are consistent with previous reports and suggest that advanced ASL MRI methods might be useful for detecting acute neurobiological changes in acute SRC.

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Acknowledgements

This publication was made possible, in part, with support from the Grand Alliance Concussion Assessment, Research, and Education (CARE) Consortium, funded, in part by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Department of Defense (DOD). The U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, 820 Chandler Street, Fort Detrick MD 21702-5014 is the awarding and administering acquisition office. This work was supported by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs through the Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Program under Award NO W81XWH-14-2-0151. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions and recommendations are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the Department of Defense (DHP funds). The authors would also like to thank Jody Harland, Janetta Matesan, Larry Riggen (Indiana University); Ashley Rettmann (University of Michigan); Melissa Koschnitzke (Medical College of Wisconsin); Michael Jarrett, Vibeke Brinck and Bianca Byrne (Quesgen); Thomas Dompier, Melissa Niceley Baker, and Sara Dalton (Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention); and the research and medical staff at each of the participating sites.

Funding

This study was funded as part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association–Department of Defense Grand Alliance.

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Correspondence to Yang Wang.

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Wang, Y., Nencka, A.S., Meier, T.B. et al. Cerebral blood flow in acute concussion: preliminary ASL findings from the NCAA-DoD CARE consortium. Brain Imaging and Behavior 13, 1375–1385 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11682-018-9946-5

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Keywords

  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Concussion
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Arterial spin labeling
  • Contact sport
  • MRI