fMRI gauges concussions in high school football players | November 22 – With the help of 3-tesla functional MRI (fMRI), researchers at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, have found that some high school football players suffer undiagnosed changes in brain function as a result of repeated hits to the head during games and practices.

While the findings are cause for concern, they also represent a dilemma, because they suggest athletes may suffer a form of injury that does not exhibit the usual clinical signs of a head injury.

“Our task now is to determine if there is a means by which we can detect this impairment, because it does not produce clear dysfunction, in terms of the person having a difficult time talking about things or seeming to have a difficult time doing typical daily interactions,” said Thomas Talavage, PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering and electrical and computer engineering and co-director of the Purdue MRI Facility.

Researchers initially sent invitations to 21 football players at Jefferson High School in Lafayette, IN, asking if they would voluntarily participate in the study, which would include weekly in-season assessments of their cognitive skills. Eleven players agreed to participate, with three of the players returning because they had been diagnosed with a concussion by the team trainer and the team physician. Eight other players were included in the study as control subjects.


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