NFL concussion study

Neurologists to investigate repeat brain concussions

NFL concussion study

Neurologists at the School of Medicine have received funding to study the brain following repeat concussions. The project is one of 15 nationally selected by NFL Charities, the charitable foundation of the National Football League Owners.

“We are excited about investigating what happens to the brain’s wiring system following concussions,” says David L. Brody, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurology. “We’re honored that the NFL has given us the opportunity to contribute to a greater understanding of the aftereffects of repetitive concussive brain injuries. We hope that this will lead to better ways to prevent and treat them.”

The NFL-funded project will use a type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure damage in the brain’s white matter after repetitive concussive brain injury. The white matter consists primarily of long nerve cell extensions called axons that serve as the brain’s wiring system.

Last year, Brody’s group published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine describing how they used the same MRI method to analyze the wiring in the brains of U.S. military personnel who had suffered blast-related injuries.

“There are a number of differences between blast-related injuries and repetitive sports-related concussions,” Brody says. “So it will be critical to validate the MRI method in a model of repetitive concussion to help us understand the meaning of any findings we may observe.”

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