Concussions are the most common types of brain injury sustained by people between the ages of 18 to 24, mostly due to various car or motorcycle accidents or concussions suffered in sports. A study conducted at the Medical College of Wisconsin has claimed that concussions can cause blood flow irregularities after their symptoms disappear.
The study group around which this research revolved was comprised of 27 patients who suffered a concussion within 24 hours of the MRI scan which was performed by the researchers while the control group of 27 healthy individuals who didn’t suffer a concussion were scanned as well.
Out of the 27 of the patients with concussions, 30% have already suffered one prior to the start of the study. The scans were performed both during the day of the accident as well as 8 days later, a period of time in which symptoms caused by said accident start to disappear.
Up to this point, concussions were believed to alleviate after a short 8 to 10 day period, with the average waiting period an athlete suffering from one being fifteen days. The health of the subject after 8 to 15 days was analyzed through the use of both normal MRI scans as well as cognitive tests, in order to see if any symptoms still occur.
But the researchers from the study used an alternative method called arterial spin labeling MRI which observes and calculates the blood flow inside the patient’s brain. This process was used because blood flow irregularities are not directly tied to concussions even though they have long-term effects on the cognitive processes of the subject in question.
After comparing the MRI scans from both the group with concussions and the control group after a period of 8 days, scientists observed a decrease in blood flow due to concussions in the patients who suffered from them. The physical effects of a brain injury of this type are not the only ones in question. The lingering psychological effects are still a big problem when approaching this matter.
The long term changes which can be brought by the decline of blood flow are still under speculation, requiring further studies to be made on the subject at hand. But by further analyzing the situation, doctors will be able to tell if an athlete, for example, is capable of practicing a sport after two weeks have passed after he suffered a concussion, by just looking at the MRI, without the need of subjecting the patient to extensive examinations.
Because concussions can cause blood flow irregularities after their symptoms disappear, it is strongly recommended that the public at large stay clear of the possibility of having such an accident by protecting themselves with helmets and other such means of defense.