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por Diana Bradley, Staff Writer | August 22, 2013

Companies like Carestream are also developing new technologies, such as CBCT, to better diagnose and manage TBI.

"New diagnostic imaging technology may help improve the diagnosis and treatment of head injuries," Burns said. "With the prevalence and severity of TBI being a major concern in the medical community, our work can lead to create a system capable of detecting TBI at the point of care to more confidently diagnose brain injuries."

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Meanwhile, in March, GE and the NFL announced the Head Health Initiative, a four-year, $60 million collaboration to speed diagnosis and improve treatment for mild traumatic brain injury. Guided by health care experts, the goal of the research and innovation program is to improve the safety of athletes, military members and society overall. In addition the NFL, GE and sporting apparel company Under Armour launched a two-year open innovation challenge to invest up to $20 million in research and technology to better understand, diagnose and protect against mild traumatic brain injury.

On the whole, there are several new imaging techniques being used on patients with concussions, according to Hammeke.

Diffusion tensor imaging holds promise for identifying white matter abnormalities that might be linked with brain concussion; while susceptibility-weighted imaging has promise in identifying microscopic traces of hemorrhage that can be associated with brain concussion, he said. Further, resting and activated functional MRI scans have promise in showing subtle residuals in functional abnormalities that may persist beyond any structural abnormalities.

"New technologies in brain imaging now enable better study of structural and functional changes in the brain associated with concussion," Hammeke said.

New findings
A new study, published in the September issue of the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, documents irregular brain activity within the first 24 hours of a concussive injury, as well as an increased level of brain activity weeks later. For the first time, the study, lead by Hammeke, found that the brain may compensate for the injury during recovery time. By utilizing functional MRI, decreased activity in select regions of the right hemisphere of the brain were highlighted, suggesting the poor cognitive performance of concussion patients is related to the underactivation of attentional brain circuits.

"There is a notion that, after a brain concussion, the brain is particularly vulnerable to the effects of a second concussion, which may disrupt the healing process of the first concussion," said Hammeke. "Defining this window of vulnerability after a concussion will be important to establishing effective public policies for managing concussions in sports, the military and general civilian circumstances."

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