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Sports concussion research using fMRI provides insight for safe return-to-play decisions

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The study helps define concussion and recovery for safe return-to-play

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1.4 and 3.6 million sports and recreation-related concussions occur each year, with the majority happening at the high school level. An explosion of scientific research over the past decade has taught us more about mild traumatic brain injury or concussion than we have ever known, noted Dr. Lovell, including the knowledge that mismanagement of even seemingly mild concussions can lead to serious consequences in young athletes.

A concussion can occur when an athlete receives a traumatic force to the head or upper body that causes the brain to shake inside of the skull. Injury is defined as a concussion when it causes a change in mental status such as loss of consciousness, amnesia, disorientation, confusion or mental fogginess. The severity, effects and recovery of concussion are difficult to determine because no two concussions are alike, and symptoms are not always straightforward. In recent years, research has shown that until a concussed brain is completely healed, the brain may be vulnerable to further injury, which has led to published studies that have raised public awareness and significantly changed the way sports concussions are managed. Importantly, much of this research has included data that proves the usefulness of objective neuropsychological test data as part of the comprehensive clinical evaluation to determine clinical recovery following concussion. In fact, recent international concussion management guidelines have emphasized player symptoms and neuropsychological test results as cornerstones of the injury evaluation and management process.

While neuropsychological testing has become an increasingly useful tool, no published studies have examined the relationship between changes in computerized neuropsychological testing completed in a medical clinic
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Contact: Susan Manko
MankoSM@upmc.edu
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
6-Aug-2007


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