Use of magnetic source imaging to assess recovery after severe traumatic brain injury-an MEG pilot study

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Front Neurol


RATIONALE: Severe TBI (sTBI) is a devastating neurological injury that comprises a significant global trauma burden. Early comprehensive neurocritical care and rehabilitation improve outcomes for such patients, although better diagnostic and prognostic tools are necessary to guide personalized treatment plans.

METHODS: In this study, we explored the feasibility of conducting resting state magnetoencephalography (MEG) in a case series of sTBI patients acutely after injury (~7 days), and then about 1.5 and 8 months after injury. Synthetic aperture magnetometry (SAM) was utilized to localize source power in the canonical frequency bands of delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma, as well as DC-80 Hz.

RESULTS: At the first scan, SAM source maps revealed zones of hypofunction, islands of preserved activity, and hemispheric asymmetry across bandwidths, with markedly reduced power on the side of injury for each patient. GCS scores improved at scan 2 and by scan 3 the patients were ambulatory. The SAM maps for scans 2 and 3 varied, with most patients showing increasing power over time, especially in gamma, but a continued reduction in power in damaged areas and hemispheric asymmetry and/or relative diminishment in power at the site of injury. At the group level for scan 1, there was a large excess of neural generators operating within the delta band relative to control participants, while the number of neural generators for beta and gamma were significantly reduced. At scan 2 there was increased beta power relative to controls. At scan 3 there was increased group-wise delta power in comparison to controls.

CONCLUSION: In summary, this pilot study shows that MEG can be safely used to monitor and track the recovery of brain function in patients with severe TBI as well as to identify patient-specific regions of decreased or altered brain function. Such MEG maps of brain function may be used in the future to tailor patient-specific rehabilitation plans to target regions of altered spectral power with neurostimulation and other treatments.

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