Sounding out concussion in kids

Embargoed until: Publicly released:
Scientific Reports

US scientists have found a new way to help diagnose concussion in children, based on how the brain processes sound. The researchers looked at whether concussions alter the way kids' brains process speech, and found that they could this altered processing pattern to identify kids with concussion 90 per cent of the time. There is currently no single test that can reliably diagnose concussion; instead, clinicians rely on weighing up a number of symptoms across multiple organ systems in order to make a diagnosis. The researchers say that while further studies are needed to validate this system, it may assist in the diagnosis and management of concussions in the future.

  • Location of Interest:
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Northwestern University, United States
  • Health / Medical
  • Sport
Last updated: Thu 22 Dec 2016

Media Release

From: Springer Nature

[1] Neuroscience: Sound processing may help diagnose concussion

A biological marker, which may help diagnose children who have experienced concussion, has been identified in a study published in Scientific Reports. In this initial study, the authors tested the hypothesis that concussions disrupt the neural processing of speech, and believe that measuring speech-evoked frequency-following responses (FFRs) — neural signals generated in the brain upon hearing sound — may assist in the diagnosis and management of concussions.

Currently no single test has been validated to reliably diagnose concussion; instead, clinicians rely on weighing up a number of symptoms across multiple organ systems in order to make a diagnosis. However, among the consequences of mild traumatic brain injuries, such as concussion, is a compromised ability to make sense of sound.

In a study involving 40 children (20 of whom had sustained concussion) with an average age of 13, Nina Kraus and colleagues investigated if concussion disrupts the ability to process the fundamental frequency of speech — an acoustic cue used to track and identify sounds and speakers. The authors found that children with concussion exhibit a signature neural profile that distinguishes them from those without concussion. By measuring FFRs of participants in each group, the authors found that monitoring neural processing of sound correctly identified 90% of concussion cases and 95% of the control cases. The authors note that further studies are needed, including validation in a novel cohort, but FFR may assist in the diagnosis and management of concussions in the future.

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 Research Springer Nature Please link to the article in online versions of your report (the URL will go live after the embargo ends) Web page 20 Dec 2016 4:50pm