Tomographic Task-Related Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy in Acute Sport-Related Concussion: An Observational Case Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Mario Forcione
  • Antonio Maria Chiarelli
  • David Perpetuini
  • David Hacker
  • Arcangelo Merla

External organisations

  • National Institute for Health Research Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre (NIHR-SRMRC)
  • University Hospital Birmingham
  • Birmingham Women's and Children's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • G. d'Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara


Making decisions regarding return-to-play after sport-related concussion (SRC) based on resolution of symptoms alone can expose contact-sport athletes to further injury before their recovery is complete. Task-related functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) could be used to scan for abnormalities in the brain activation patterns of SRC athletes and help clinicians to manage their return-to-play. This study aims to show a proof of concept of mapping brain activation, using tomographic task-related fNIRS, as part of the clinical assessment of acute SRC patients. A high-density frequency-domain optical device was used to scan 2 SRC patients, within 72 h from injury, during the execution of 3 neurocognitive tests used in clinical practice. The optical data were resolved into a tomographic reconstruction of the brain functional activation pattern, using diffuse optical tomography. Moreover, brain activity was inferred using single-subject statistical analyses. The advantages and limitations of the introduction of this optical technique into the clinical assessment of acute SRC patients are discussed.


Original languageEnglish
Article number6273
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2020


  • DOT, Digit Span, Silent Word Generation, Symbol Search, TBI, WAIS-IV, diffuse optical tomography, fNIRS, return-to-play, traumatic brain injury