Francis X. Conidi, M.D. from the Florida Center for Headache and Sports Neurology has issued a new study which examined retired NFL players for signs of traumatic brain injuries using Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), and the results were fairly damning. The study found that over 40% of the retired NFL players had sustained a traumatic brain injury. Approximately 40 retired NFL players underwent the exam, which included a Compressive Neurological/Headache history, neurological examination, neurophysiological evaluation, Clinical Dementia Rating Scale, physiological evaluation and DTI MRI were performed. According to Dr. Conidi, this represents “one of the largest studies to date in living retired NFL players.”
The participants had played football for an average of seven years, and had reported an average of 8.1 concussions. Neurophysiological testing demonstrated significant abnormalities in attention and concentration, executive function, learning/memory and spatial/perceptual function. All of the players who met the criteria for chronic migraine had abnormalities on measures of attention/concentration, learning/memory.
Each player had gone through sensitive MRI scans called DTI, which is an imagining method that analyzes the movement of water molecules in the white matter of the brain. Seventeen players, or approximately 43%, had levels of movement “2.5 standard deviations below those of healthy people of the same age.” Furthermore, it appeared that the more years a player spent in the NFL, the more likely he was to show signs of traumatic brain injury on the DTI scans.
The results were released April 11, 2016. Dr. Conidi will present his findings in full at the upcoming American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 2016 Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
This study once again diminishes defense courtroom doctor’s arguments that diffusion tensor imaging cannot discriminate individual patients.
If you or a loved one have suffered from a concussion or traumatic brain injury, it is strongly recommended that you seek experienced counsel immediately.