Impairments from mild traumatic brain injury can be difficult to predict, assess, and even visualize using a traditional scan like CT or MRI. Past research has found that even functional MRI is not specifically informative for cognitive impairments related to mild traumatic brain injury.
A recent study used functional MRI to calculate brain connectivity of people with a traumatic brain injury in a resting state. Their results showed not only evidence of impaired connectivity throughout the brain, but also areas of enhanced connectivity that may reflect compensatory processes (healthy areas of the brain that "take over" for damaged areas).
By using an assessment that measured brain function on multiple levels, researchers were able to show that mild traumatic brain injury is related to widespread functional impairment as well as areas that compensate for those impairments. This research may further the understanding of mild traumatic brain injury so that clinicians can better predict and assess outcomes.
Stevens MC, Lovejoy D, Kim J, et al. Multiple resting state network functional connectivity abnormalities in mild traumatic brain injury.Brain Imaging and Behavior. (May 2012).