(HealthDay News) – Children and adolescents who have experienced mild traumatic brain injury (concussion) show changes in brain white matter that persist months after the injury, even after symptoms have disappeared, according to a study published in the Dec. 12 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

Andrew R. Mayer, PhD, from The Mind Research Network/Lovelace Biomedical and Environmental Research Institute in Albuquerque, NM, and colleagues assessed cognitive function and used diffusion tensor imaging in 15 children with pediatric mild traumatic brain injury (pmTBI) and 15 matched children (all 10–17 years old). In addition to standard analyses, a novel strategy was used to capture spatially heterogeneous white matter injuries. Children were initially assessed within 21 days of injury and again four months after injury.

The researchers found that children with pmTBI exhibited cognitive impairments in the domains of attention and processing speed. Children with pmTBI showed increased anisotropic diffusion, with many clusters with high anisotropy, which allowed discrimination of children with pmTBI from healthy children with 90% accuracy. The white matter abnormalities persisted four months after injury and were not associated with neuropsychological deficits.

“Although preliminary, current data provide evidence that diffusion abnormalities may represent a safe (i.e., non-iodizing radiation) and objective biomarker for classifying pmTBI at high levels of accuracy in the semi-acute injury stage,” Mayer and colleagues conclude.

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