New brain imaging biomarkers for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Contact: Dr Kelly Jones -

Lead: Dr Samantha Holdsworth, University of Auckland

Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) encompasses a wide spectrum of cerebral injury and functional deficit. However, there are no definitive assessments to confirm its presence or severity, as well as the impact on neuropsychological function. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) offers great potential for  the development and provision of methods to better understand, prevent, and manage these injuries. MRI  is able to probe aspects of deranged physiology in mTBI such as white matter integrity, microhaemorrhage,  brain swelling, altered blood flow, and alterations in tissue microstructure. However, current clinical MRI
methods do not offer fast high-resolution multiparametric scanning approaches that could identify early  changes in mTBI.

This study, focusing on cerebral trauma in rugby players, aims to develop novel, noninvasive,  and high-fidelity MRI techniques to image brain integrity. These images will jointly probe for  altered functional, anatomical, and biomechanical changes in mTBI, and will be correlated with kinematic  sensor data and neuropsychological measures to devise a definitive test for concussion. Specific objectives are to (1) define and validate our comprehensive set of MRI methods and models to find a sensitive and specific measure for mTBI, (2) predict neuropsychological outcomes, and (3) inform when mTBI patients can safely return to their normal routine.

COLLABORATORS (University of Auckland):

  • Dr Vicki Shim
  • Dr David Dubowitz
  • Professor Poul Michael Fonss Nielsen
  • Professor Alistair  Young
  • Professor Richard Faull

Funded by: Faculty Research Development Fund, University of Auckland