A Review of MRI and Exercise Treatment for Improved Concussion Diagnosis and Recovery
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Concussions are a major health concern due to the unpredictable onset and resolution of debilitating post-concussion symptoms. This review discusses physiological, structural and functional brain changes post-concussion, novel non-invasive medical imaging techniques to improve diagnosis, and the role exercise could play in concussion recovery. After sustaining a concussion, about 50% of youth and 20% of adults have symptoms that last for more than a month. Understanding concussion severity has become consequential in recent years as professional sports leagues have acknowledged their harmful short- and long-term effects. Despite these effects, concussed children and adults continue to return to activity and sport prior to a full recovery. This premature return can be enabled because routine clinical medical imaging techniques are unable to detect post-concussion brain damage. However, there have been advances in MRI approaches that clearly indicate brain damage due to concussion. In terms of recovery, rest has been the long-standing prescribed concussion treatment; however, subsymptom exacerbating exercise has been shown to be a safe and effective treatment option. Novel controlled aerobic exercise interventions have improved concussion outcomes by reducing recovery time and symptom severity.
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