According to a new study published in the journal Radiology, older people take longer to recover from concussions than younger people.
For the study, researchers from Taipei Medical University recruited 13 young adults between the ages of 21 and 30, and 13 older adults between the ages of 51 and 68 with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). They matched them with 26 control subjects without MTBI. Participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans within the first month of injury, and received a follow-up scan six weeks after. In addition, each participant underwent working memory tests.
Researchers discovered that the younger patients showed more initial activation (hyperactivation) than the controls in two main areas of the brain—the right precuneus and the right inferior gyrus—when they performed memory tasks. Older participants, on the other hand, showed less activation (hypoactivation) than the controls in the right precuneus and right inferior frontal gyrus.
The team also discovered that post-concussion symptoms for younger patients significantly improved at the follow-up, while older patients showed little change between their initial and follow-up exams. Hypoactivation also continued during that period.
Study author Dr. David Yen-Ting Chen concludes that the study’s findings suggest differences in neural plasticity based on age and resulting variations in how therapies and prognoses should be applied. Overall, the study suggests mild traumatic brain injuries more greatly affect older patients compared to younger patients.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Yen-Ting Chen, D., et al., “Effect of Age on Working Memory Performance and Cerebral Activation after Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: A Functional MR Imaging Study,” Radiology October 2015.
Paddock, C., “Concussion recovery proceeds more slowly in older people,” Medical News Today web site, October 6, 2015; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/300491.php.