Magnetic resonance spectroscopy as a tool to track sustained neuro-metabolic changes indicating impairment in high school contact sport athletes
With members of the contact sports community suffering from conditions like post-concussion syndrome, second impact syndrome, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, several research studies have appropriately focused on the compromised neural safety of athletes participating in these sports. While most are geared to understanding the mechanisms of concussion, leading researchers have discovered that some individuals experiencing large numbers of repetitive hits may also be at risk for certain diseases regardless of their concussion history. Thus, it is imperative that the scientific community not just focus on this condition alone, but also assess the overall neural health of the contact-sports population. Previously, the Purdue Neurotrauma Group discovered significant fMRI alterations in a cohort of asymptomatic high school American football players that correlated with the frequency and distribution of helmet hits sustained. In the current work, proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy ( 1H MRS) has been utilized to track the neural metabolism in a similar cohort of high school football players prior to and during their competition season. Our findings suggest evidence of an energy crisis, acute damage to glial cells within the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and compromised neuronal function and signaling within the primary motor cortex (M1) when regularly exposed to sub-concussive blows. We also report a metabolic recovery in some cases within the season that has been correlated with the type of helmet hits experienced. It is unknown at this time whether this observed "recovery" is associated with lighter physical loading or it is a form of secondary damage that nears an athlete toward a domain of chronic impairment or concussion. This work also considers the comparison of these non-diagnosed athletes with healthy non-collision sport controls and an investigation of the metabolic relationships with cognitive function.
Dydak, Purdue University.
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