Background: Despite negative neuroimaging findings many athletes display neurophysiological alterations and post-concussion symptoms that may be attributable to neurometabolic alterations.
Methods: The present study investigated the effects of sports concussion on brain metabolism using 1H-MR Spectroscopy by comparing a group of 10 non-concussed athletes with a group of 10 concussed athletes of the same age (mean: 22.5 years) and education (mean: 16 years) within both the acute and chronic post-injury phases. All athletes were scanned 1-6 days post-concussion and again 6-months later in a 3T Siemens MRI.
Results: Concussed athletes demonstrated neurometabolic impairment in prefrontal and motor (M1) cortices in the acute phase where NAA:Cr levels remained depressed relative to controls. There was some recovery observed in the chronic phase where Glu:Cr levels returned to those of control athletes; however, there was a pathological increase of m-I:Cr levels in M1 that was only present in the chronic phase.
Conclusions: These results confirm cortical neurometabolic changes in the acute post-concussion phase as well as recovery and continued metabolic abnormalities in the chronic phase. The results indicate that complex pathophysiological processes differ depending on the post-injury phase and the neurometabolite in question.