What happens to the brain over a single season of playing high school rugby: structural and white matter fibre tract changes related to impact
Maryam Tayebi1,2, Eryn Kwon1,2, William Schierding3, Joshua McGeown2, Matthew McDonald2,4, Paul Condron2, Leigh Potter2, Miao Qiao5, Jerome Maller6, Samantha Holdsworth2,7, Justin Fernandez1, Alan Wang1, and Vickie Shim1,2
1Auckland Bioengineering Institute, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, 2Mātai Medical Research Institute, Gisborne, New Zealand, 3Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, 4Department of Ophthalmology, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, 5School of Computer Science, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, 6General Electric Healthcare, Victoria, Australia, 7Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences & Centre for Brain Research, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
We conducted a multimodal MRI study on high school rugby players with bespoke kinematic mouthguard sensors to investigate the correlation between the cumulative effects of subconcussive head impact exposure and any change in the structure of the brain. Despite being underpowered, the study found that the volume of the corpus callosum changed the most over a season of rugby (PCA); Axial Diffusivity of the UF and ILF tracts negatively correlated with the cumulative impact sustained by the athletes. Further investigation of the cumulative effect of playing high-contact sports over an extended period is required, especially for children with developing brains.
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