A new imaging study suggests cerebral blood flow recovery could be a biomarker of outcomes in patients after concussion, according to new research.

OT_News-01Findings from the study were published online March 2 in JAMA Neurology.

Most of the about 3.8 million sports-related traumatic brain injuries that occur annually are concussions, according to the CDC. Researchers are pushing to develop methods to better diagnose the presence and severity of concussions. According to the background information in the study, reduced cerebral blood flow is a marker of concussion severity in animal models.

Timothy B. Meier, PhD, of the Mind Research Network/Lovelace Biomedical and Environmental Research Institute in Albuquerque, N.M., and coauthors looked at the recovery of CBF in a group of 44 college football players and compared the course of CBF recovery with that of cognitive and behavioral symptoms. The study was conducted between March 2012 and December 2013.

Of the 44 players, 17 were concussed and had imaging performed one day, one week and one month postconcussion. The study also included 27 healthy football players as the control group.

The study results indicate both cognitive (simple reaction time) and neuropsychiatric symptoms at one day postinjury resolved at either one week postinjury or one month postinjury. The imaging data suggested CBF recovery in parts of the brain. The authors also found CBF in the dorsal midinsular cortex part of the brain was decreased at one month postconcussion in slower-to-recover athletes and in athletes with the most severe initial psychiatric symptoms.

“To our knowledge, this study provides the first prospective evidence of reduced CBF and subsequent recovery following concussion in a homogenous sample of collegiate football athletes and also demonstrates the potential of quantified CBF as an objective biomarker for concussion,” the authors wrote.

This research was conducted using internal funds from the Laureate Institute for Brain Research, which is supported by the William K. Warren Foundation.

Study abstract: http://archneur.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?doi=10.1001/jamaneurol.2014.4778