General Electric and the National Football League awarded $300,000 from one of their inaugural Head Health Initiative grants to the concussion program at the University of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The grant is to assess whether high definition fiber-tracking can identify concussion and subsequent recovery in a newly injured athlete in order to safely return the athlete to play.
A powerful imaging technology, high definition fiber-tracking (HDFT) will be tested in a 1-year study to see if it may become the first imaging technique to accurately and consistently help determine a diagnosis of concussion and an injury prognosis, according to a press release from the University of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). Researchers plan to study 50 or more athletes ages 13 to 28 who sustained a head injury within 7 days of seeking care at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program. Patients will have an HDFT scan, as well as undergo examination-room assessments, vestibular and ocular evaluations and neurocognitive testing.
“This imaging technology allows us to see fiber loss and tract breaks, which has not been possible before,” Walter Schneider, PhD, professor of psychology and neurological surgery and a senior scientist at the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center, stated in the release. “HDFT could provide an objective way of identifying and quantifying damage, as well as a way to monitor healing. Concussion patients may find it a relief to be able to point to a specific cause for symptoms that otherwise might seem inexplicable.”