Brain 'compensates for traumatic injury'

26 November 2012

The brain compensates after it has experienced traumatic injury, according to new research that could be key in helping people recover from brain damage.

A special magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test could be used to predict when patients who have had concussions will improve, according to scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and Montefiore Medical Center.

In the study, 17 patients with traumatic brain injury underwent diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), which reveals the movement of water molecules within and along axons, which are the nerve fibres that make up the brain's white matter.

DTI enables researchers to measure the uniformity of water movement in the brain (called fractional anisotropy or FA), with areas of low FA suggesting axonal injury, while areas of abnormally high FA point to changes in the brain.

It was found that people with abnormally high FA were likely to experience fewer post-concussion symptoms and better functioning. Researchers suggested that the brain could be actively compensating for its injuries in patients with areas of high FA.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

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