Post-Concussion Symptoms More Serious in Older People

Older patients recover from concussion more slowly than younger ones, according to new research.

Functional MR imaging (fMRI) showed different activation patterns during working memory (WM) performance tasks in younger and older patients, confirming the importance of age in the activation, modulation and allocation of WM processing resources after mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), according to new Radiology research.

David Yen-Ting Chen, M.D., of the Brain and Consciousness Research Center in Taiwan, and colleagues assessed the recovery from concussion of 13 people age 21 to 30, and 13 older people, age 51-68. Group comparison and regression analysis were performed among post-concussion symptoms, neuropsychologic tests, and working memory activity in both groups.

In addition to showing different activation patterns during WM tasks in younger and older patients, the study also found:

Partial recovery of a decrease of post-concussion syndrome (PCS) symptoms associated with hyperactivation was observed in younger patients at six-week follow-up imaging, whereas persistent hypoactivation and no change in PCS symp­toms were observed in older patients.

Increased activation in younger patients was associated with poorer task performance and more severe PCS symptoms; surprisingly, the latter may suggest that hyperactivation in younger patients with MTBI indicates more severe brain injury.

“Taken together, these findings provide evidence for differen­tial neural plasticity across different ages, with potential prognostic and therapeutic implications,” the authors wrote.

The study was published in the journal Radiology.





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