Concussion appears to have a more lasting effect on older people – they take longer to recover from their post-injury symptoms than younger people, says a new study published in the journal Radiology. The researchers recruited 13 young adults aged 21-30 years and 13 older adults aged 51-68 years with MTBI and matched them with 26 controls without MTBI. All underwent first fMRI scans within 1 month of injury, and a follow-up scan 6 weeks later. The participants also underwent neuropsychological and working memory tests.
When they analyzed the results, the researchers found the younger patients had more initial activation (hyperactivation) than controls in two areas of the brain – the right precuneus and right inferior parietal gyrus – as they performed working memory tasks. In contrast, the older patients showed less activation (hypoactivation) than controls in the right precuneus and right inferior frontal gyrus. Also, while younger patients had significantly improved post-concussion symptoms at the follow-up, older patients showed little significant change between initial and follow-up exams, and their hypoactivation also persisted over the period.