FRIDAY, June 8, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Abnormalities that occur in various areas of the brain and change over time may explain why concussions affect people differently, according to a new study.
Patients can have widely varying responses to concussions. Most recover with no lasting problems, but as many as 30 percent have permanent effects, such as a personality change.
Previous research has shown there are differences between the brains of people who have suffered concussions and people who haven't, but it hadn't been determined if there were differences between the brains of concussion patients.
"Most researchers have assumed that all people with concussions have abnormalities in the same brain regions," study lead author Dr. Michael Lipton, associate director of the Gruss Magnetic Resonance Research Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, said in a college news release.
"But that doesn't make sense, since it is more likely that different areas would be affected in each person because of differences in anatomy, vulnerability to injury and mechanism of injury," said Lipton, who also is medical director of MRI services at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.
In this study, Lipton and his colleagues used a new MRI technique called diffusion tensor imaging to scan the brains of 19 women and 15 men who had concussions. The patients, aged 19 to 64, underwent a scan within two weeks of their concussion and again three and six months later.
Using a special type of software to analyze the brain images, the researchers found that concussion patients have unique patterns of abnormalities in different brain regions and that the abnormalities change over time.
It may be possible to use this new approach to assess concussion patients, predict which head injuries are likely to have long-term neurological effects and evaluate the effectiveness of treatments, Lipton said.
The study was published online June 8 in the journal Brain Imaging and Behavior.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about concussions.