Advanced NeuroImaging for Identication of Children at Risk Towards Acquired Sports-Related Brain Injuries


Semyon Slobounov


Keith Yeates
Jolien Gooijers
Kendra Jorgensen-Wagers
Ludmila Zhavoronkova
Giuseppe Lazzarino
Thomas M. Talavage



There is a growing concern around the world about the safety of children participating in collision sports, such as European football (soccer), American football, rugby, and others. Predisposition factors, genetics, socio-social influences, deviation from normal brain development trajectory, and differential dose-response to single and/or multiple high intensity impacts are poorly understood. Ironically, there are neither neuroscience-based criteria nor clearly identified fluid biomarkers for this puzzling neurological disorder in the pediatric population. Multiple research labs around the world are trying to explore children’s age range vulnerability and long-term physical, behavioral, and neuropsychiatric consequences induced by acquired brain injuries. These efforts will be presented with respect to clinical implications and treatment of children with these injuries.

The overall goal of this pre-conference session is to bring together world renowned scientists to better understand the role of advanced neuroimaging and other biomarkers of pathophysiology in underlying brain functioning and its alterations because of acquired sports-related brain injuries in pediatric populations. The recent empirical findings of structural neuroimaging identifying neuropathological changes via computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), arterial spin labeling (ASL) and others associated with acquired brain injuries in children will be reviewed. An emphasis will be placed on understanding the subtle nature of neuropathology that may accompany these injures and its detection with neuroimaging.

A key issue for clinical management is how to predict which children with acquired sports-related brain injury will go on to display persistent post-concussion syndrome (PCS). Within the scope of this symposium, our speakers will review the existing literature regarding the prediction of PCS following brain injury in children and adolescents considering both injury-related and non-injury-related factors as possible prognostic indicators. The proposed presentations will conclude with suggestions for future research in which the long-term goal is to develop evidence-based decision rules that facilitate the identification of children at risk for poor outcomes after acquired brain injuries. A clear need to identify both sensitive and specific neuroimaging tools aimed at identification of children at high risk for poor outcomes will be a special topic of this symposium.


Learning Objectives:

  1. To obtain current knowledge about differential sensitivity of multi-modal neuroimaing tools such as fMRI, SWI, ASL, DTI to identify both functional and structural brain alterations in children suffering from acquired brain injuries.
  2. To obtain current knowledge about advanced technologies aimed to prognosticate and quantify the impacts during sports-related collisions in pediatric populations.
  3. To acquire the most current knowledge about multi-modal biomarkers (blood/fluid biomarkers, genetics, MRI) to prognosticate the risk of recurrent brain injuries and long-term deficits after a single or multiple concussive/subconcussive events.