Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering (MSECE)

Committee Chair

Thomas M. Talavage

Committee Member 1

Eric A. Nauman

Committee Member 2

Michael D. Zoltowski


Depression and cognitive impairment are commonly found in retired football players. Although they receive high magnitude hits to the head, the majority of the hits are sub-concussive, resulting in no clinical symptoms. Recent work using functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) and neurocognitive testing confirms that blows, causing changes in brain function, might not necessarily result in clinical diagnosis of concussion. Furthermore, cognitive deficiency in football players may be attributed to repetitive sub-concussive blows to the head. Diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) has previously been utilized to detect white matter (WM) abnormalities in mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) patients, including those who have previous concussions from sports. DWI has been proposed as a means to effectively identify pre-clinical deficiencies in individuals exposed to repeated blows to the head, with a goal of prevention and treatment for subsequent neurodegenerative disease. This work demonstrates the potential of DWI as a tool for detection of changes in white matter of high school athletes involved in high-collision sports.

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