Features | Partner Sites | Information | LinkXpress
Sign In
Schiller
Ampronix
Agfa Healthcare

Diffusion Tensor Imaging Reveals that Soccer ‘Heading’ Could Lead to Brain Injury

By Medimaging International staff writers
Posted on 22 Dec 2011
Employing diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to evaluate the effects of soccer ‘heading,’ investigators have discovered that players who head the ball with high frequency have brain abnormalities similar to those found in traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients.

The research was presented November 29, 2011, at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), held in Chicago (IL, USA). Heading, in which players field the soccer ball with their head, is a fundamental part of the game and the focus of many training drills.

“Heading a soccer ball is not an impact of a magnitude that will lacerate nerve fibers in the brain,” said Michael L. Lipton, MD, PhD, associate director of the Gruss Magnetic Resonance Research Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (New York, NY, USA) and medical director of MRI services at Montefiore Medical Center (New York, NY, USA). “But repetitive heading could set off a cascade of responses that can lead to degeneration of brain cells.”

DTI, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique, allows researchers to assess microscopic alterations in the brain’s white matter, which comprises millions of nerve fibers called axons that act similar to communication cables connecting various areas of the brain. DTI generates a measurement, called fractional anisotropy (FA), of the movement of water molecules along axons. In healthy white matter, the direction of water movement is fairly uniform and measures high in FA. When water movement is more random, FA values decrease. “Abnormally low FA within white matter has been associated with cognitive impairment in patients with TBI,” Dr. Lipton noted.

Dr. Lipton and colleagues performed DTI on 32 amateur soccer players (average age: 30.8 years), all of whom have played the sport since childhood. The investigators estimated how frequently each soccer player headed the ball on an annual basis and then ranked the players based on heading frequency. They then compared the brain images of the most frequent headers with those of the remaining players and identified areas of the brain where FA values differed considerably.

“Between the two groups, there were significant differences in FA in five brain regions in the frontal lobe and in the temporo-occipital region,” Dr. Lipton stated. “Soccer players who headed most frequently had significantly lower FA in these brain regions.”

The five regions identified by the researchers are responsible for attention, memory, executive functioning, and higher-order visual functions. To evaluate the correlation between the frequency of heading and white matter changes, the researchers also compared the magnitude of FA in each brain region with the frequency of heading in each soccer player. “Our goal was to determine if there is a threshold level for heading frequency that, when surpassed, resulted in detectable white matter injury,” Dr. Lipton said.

The study’s findings demonstrated a threshold level of about 1,000-1,500 heads per year. Once players in the study exceeded that level, researchers observed a considerable reduction in their FA in the five identified brain regions. “What we’ve shown here is compelling evidence that there are brain changes that look like traumatic brain injury as a result of heading a soccer ball with high frequency,” Dr. Lipton said. “Given that soccer is the most popular sport worldwide and is played extensively by children, these are findings that should be taken into consideration in order to protect soccer players.”

Related Links:

Gruss Magnetic Resonance Research Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine



Channels

Radiography

view channel
Image: The Siemens Healthcare Somatom Force CT system (Photo courtesy of Siemens Healthcare).

New CT Scanning Technology Is Faster, Uses Less Radiation, and Easier on the Kidneys

Patients who must undergo computed tomography (CT) scanning now have a new option for screening that is extremely fast, uses less radiation, and is safer for the kidneys. With US Food and Administration... Read more

Ultrasound

view channel
Image: UAMS researcher William Culp, MD, (right), and Doug Wilson of UALR (left) have developed a device to treat stroke (Photo courtesy of UAMS/UALR Office of Communications).

Clot-Buster Ultrasound Device May Become Best Treatment Option for Stroke Patients

A new device is being developed to treat stroke more effectively. The new technology fits on the head similar to a halo and delivers therapy to rapidly bust clots that cause stroke. The device was developed... Read more

Nuclear medicine

view channel

PET Imaging Reveals Brain Benefits from Weight Loss After Bariatric Surgery

Imaging studies revealed that weight loss surgery has been found to suppress changes in brain metabolism associated with obesity and improve cognitive function involved in planning, strategizing, and organizing. Therefore, researchers have hypothesized that a specific surgical procedure could reduce risk of Alzheimer’s... Read more

General/Advanced Imaging

view channel

Diagnostic Imaging Tests Ordered by General Practitioners in Australia Nearly Double in 10 Years

A 45% increase in diagnostic imaging tests ordered by Australian general practitioners (GPs) is being fueled by increasing GP visits, an escalating number of problems managed at doctor visits, and a higher probability that GPs order imaging tests for these problems, according to a new study. Based on a long-term national... Read more

Imaging IT

view channel
Image: An X-ray using the ClearRead bone suppression software technology (Photo courtesy of Riverain Technologies).

Bone Suppression Software Used to Optimize Diagnostic Capability of X-Ray Systems

Clinicians are gathering important information from the most routine imaging exam, the chest X-ray, by using advanced software that enhances X-ray images captured by the equipment they already have or... Read more

Industry News

view channel

Acquisition Includes Radiation Simulation Software for Radiotherapy Applications

Varian Medical Systems, Inc. (Palo Alto, CA, USA) has acquired certain assets of Transpire, Inc. (Gig Harbor, WA, USA) including the Acuros dose calculation software, which has been incorporated into Varian’s BrachyVision and Eclipse treatment planning software systems. The acquisition closed at the end of July 2014.... Read more
 
Copyright © 2000-2014 Globetech Media. All rights reserved.