High definition fiber-tracking (HDFT), developed by a team led by
The proposal, among 402 submitted internationally, was one of 15 winners expected to be announced at a news conference in
The project will study 50 or more athletes ages 13-28 who sustained a head injury within seven days of seeking care at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program. In addition to undergoing examination-room assessments, vestibular and ocular evaluations, and neurocognitive testing, patients will have an HDFT scan.
"We're excited to continue our leadership in finding new, safer ways to help people from all walks of life who suffer from the effects of concussions," Dr. Collins said. "Informative imaging studies could be a significant step forward for concussion evaluation and treatment."
There are billions of neural connections in 40 major fiber tracts in the human brain, comprising the information cables of the mind,
"This imaging technology allows us to see fiber loss and tract breaks, which has not been possible before,"
"We are also interested to see if the HDFT imaging findings align with functional impairment and symptoms in patients," Dr. Kontos added. "For example, the HDFT findings might show that there is damage to a memory tract in the brain that corresponds to functional impairment in memory performance. Conceptually, as the athlete recovers we expect to see the evidence of this in both functional and HDFT findings. Ultimately, this combination of clinical and imaging information will allow clinicians to better assess and treat the individual effects of this injury."
"This challenge was a call to action to advance head health research and innovation," said
Drs. Kontos, Collins and Schneider are the principal investigators in the Pitt/UPMC project, which will involve dozens of others from the Schneider lab and the Concussion Program. They received a
"Because HDFT can detail broken tracts in the brain much the same way an X-ray can detail broken bones, this imaging technique could provide biomarkers for specific impairments and eventually help to develop more targeted and effective therapies and treatments," Dr. Kontos said. "X-rays, MRIs, functional MRIs . . . nothing has been shown yet to be clinically useful and consistent. This could be groundbreaking for the 1.7 million or more Americans who sustain concussions every year - far more than simply top-tier athletes."
Dr. Collins is a developer, co-owner and shareholder of
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