CNS Medical Director’s Brain Injury Research to be Presented at International Conference on MRI

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The International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM), will showcase the work of Randall Benson, MD, Medical Director of the Center for Neurological Studies.

The International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM), the world’s leading society for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) researchers and practitioners, will showcase the work of Randall Benson, MD, Medical Director of the Novi, MI-based Center for Neurological Studies during its 20th annual conference in Melbourne, Australia, this week.

Using rodents, the study used two advanced MRI techniques – diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI) – to measure subtle changes in brain tissue following controlled blows to the head. These MRI techniques measured both hemorrhages and microstructural injury to the brain’s white matter, the latter evidenced by a DTI biomarker known as fractional anisotropy or FA. To validate imaging findings over time, four groups of animals were used, each stained for markers of injury from four hours to seven days following injury.

“The brain’s white matter is comprised of long fibers that form connections between the brain’s12 billion brain cells, much like the telephone wires to our homes. Injury to these fibers results in a degradation in brain function, memory, changes in personality and even psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety. The FA in a particular brain region is an indicator of the white matter fiber integrity or the severity of injury in that region. When we have changes to FA in the brain, we have a change to who we are as individuals, maybe a subtle change, but a change nonetheless,” said Benson.

Benson said this type of research is important because it allows for a precise understanding of the actual tissue changes that explain the imaging findings. “Research like this helps us to understand how the brain responds to injury, which is the first step to treating and perhaps reversing brain damage,” said Benson.

Also announced this week, Benson will serve as a lead researcher in a study of 50 former professional football players to determine the sport’s impact on brain functioning. In this study, pro football veterans will be scanned using the most sensitive MRI methods available. Scans will be matched with the player’s position, number of years in the game, and number of concussions experienced to find patterns, if any, of cognitive decline. The suicides of several former football players in recent years have raised questions as to the long-term impact of repeated blows to the head as found in contact sports like football.

Benson’s research paper in Melbourne was assisted by colleagues from the Wayne State University (WSU) School of Medicine. Benson’s football-veteran study is being assisted by colleagues from both WSU and the Detroit Medical Center

The non-profit Center for Neurological Studies was founded last year with the objective of advancing scientific research for neurovascular disease. The Center treats patients from across the country who seek improved quality of life from traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis and stroke. For more information on CNS, reach John D. Russell, Executive Director, at (248) 277-3337.

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NOTE TO EDITORS: Dr. Randall Benson is available for interview on brain injuries and brain-related diseases. Topics may include concussions in sports, help for caregivers of loved ones suffering brain disease and concussions among combat veterans. Reach Dr. Benson for an interview by calling (248) 227-9814.

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