Symptom correlates of cerebral blood flow following acute concussion

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Concussion is associated with significant symptoms within hours to days post-injury, including disturbances in physical function, cognition, sleep and emotion. However, little is known about how subjective impairments correlate with objective measures of cerebrovascular function following brain injury. This study examined the relationship between symptoms and cerebral blood flow (CBF) in individuals following sport-related concussion. Seventy university level athletes had CBF measured using Arterial Spin Labelling (ASL), including 35 with acute concussion and 35 matched controls and their symptoms were assessed using the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 3 (SCAT3). For concussed athletes, greater total symptom severity was associated with elevated posterior cortical CBF, although mean CBF was not significantly different from matched controls (p = 0.46). Examining symptom clusters, athletes reporting greater cognitive symptoms also had lower frontal and subcortical CBF, relative to athletes with greater somatic symptoms. The “cognitive” and “somatic” subgroups also exhibited significant differences in CBF relative to controls (p ≤ 0.026). This study demonstrates objective CBF correlates of symptoms in recently concussed athletes and shows that specific symptom clusters may have distinct patterns of altered CBF, significantly extending our understanding of the neurobiology of concussion and traumatic brain injury.




Churchill, N. W., Hutchison, M. G., Graham, S. J., & Schweizer, T. A. (2017). Symptom correlates of cerebral blood flow following acute concussion. NeuroImage: Clinical, 16, 234–239.

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