Cerebral Blood Flow after Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: Associations between Symptoms and Post-Injury Perfusion

Jaclyn A. Stephens, Peiying Liu, Hanzhang Lu, Stacy J. Suskauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Arterial spin labeling (ASL) has emerged as a technique for assessing mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), as it can noninvasively evaluate cerebrovascular physiology. To date, there is substantial variability in methodology and findings of ASL studies of mTBI. While both increased and decreased perfusion are reported after mTBI, more consistency is emerging when perfusion is examined with regard to symptomology. We evaluated 15 teenage athletes two and six weeks after sports-related concussion (SRC group) using pseudo-continuous ASL. We acquired comparison data from 15 matched controls from a single time point. At each time point, we completed whole-brain contrasts to evaluate differences between the SRC group and controls in relative cerebral blood flow (rCBF). Cluster-level findings directed region of interest (ROI) analyses to test for group differences in rCBF across the left dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and left insula. Finally, we evaluated ROI rCBF and symptomology in the SRC group. At two weeks post-injury, the SRC group had significantly higher rCBF in the left dorsal ACC and left insula than controls; at six weeks post-injury, elevated rCBF persisted in the SRC group in the left dorsal ACC. Perfusion in the left dorsal ACC was higher in athletes reporting physical symptoms six weeks post-injury compared with asymptomatic athletes and controls. Overall, these findings are inconsistent with reports of reduced rCBF after mTBI but coherent with studies that report increased perfusion in persons with greater or persistent mTBI-related symptomology. Future work should continue to assess how CBF perfusion relates to symptomology and recovery after mTBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-248
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurotrauma
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2018


  • adolescents
  • arterial spin labeling
  • mild traumatic brain injury
  • sports-related concussion
  • symptomology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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