Functional brain abnormalities are related to clinical recovery and time to return-to-play in athletes

Neurosurgery. 2007 Aug;61(2):352-9; discussion 359-60. doi: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000279985.94168.7F.


Objective: The relationship between athlete reports of symptoms, neurophysiological activation, and neuropsychological functioning is investigated in a sample of high school athletes.

Methods: All athletes were evaluated using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a computer-based battery of neurocognitive tests, and a subjective symptom scale. Athletes were evaluated within approximately 1 week of injury and again after clinical recovery using all assessment modalities.

Results: This study found that abnormal fMRI results during the first week of recovery predicted clinical recovery. As a group, athletes who demonstrated hyperactivation on fMRI scans at the time of their first fMRI scan demonstrated a more prolonged clinical recovery than athletes who did not demonstrate hyperactivation at the time of their first fMRI scan.

Conclusion: These results demonstrate the relationship between neurophysiological, neuropsychological, and subjective symptom data in a relatively large sample composed primarily of concussed high school athletes. fMRI represents an important evolving technology for the understanding of brain recovery after concussion and may help shape return-to-play guidelines in the future.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis*
  • Brain Concussion / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Memory
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Students