The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalXpress.
Even mild concussion can cause long-lasting effects to the brain, according to researchers at the University of Cambridge. Using data from a Europe-wide study, the team has shown that for almost a half of all people who receive a knock to the head, there are changes in how regions of the brain communicate with each other, potentially causing long term symptoms such as fatigue and cognitive impairment.
While some clinicians in recent studies predict that nine out of 10 individuals who experience concussion will have a full recovery after six months, evidence is emerging that only a half achieve a full recovery. This means that a significant proportion of patients may not receive adequate post-injury care.
Dr. Emmanuel Stamatakis from the Department of Clinical Neurosciences and Division of Anesthesia at the University of Cambridge and colleagues studied fMRI brain scans—that is, functional MRI scans, which look at how different areas of the brain coordinate with each other—taken from 108 patients with mild traumatic brain injury and compared them with scans from 76 healthy volunteers. Patients were also assessed for ongoing symptoms.
In results published in the journal Brain, the team found that just under half (45%) were still showing symptoms resulting from their brain injury, with the most common being fatigue, poor concentration and headaches.
The researchers found that these patients had abnormalities in a region of the brain known as the thalamus, which integrates all sensory information and relays this information around the brain. Counter-intuitively, concussion was associated with increased connectivity between the thalamus and the rest of the brain—in other words, the thalamus was trying to communicate more as a result of the injury—and the greater this connectivity, the poorer the prognosis for the patient.