Regional White Matter Diffusion Changes Associated with the Cumulative Tensile Strain and Strain Rate in Nonconcussed Youth Football Players

James M. Holcomb, Ryan A. Fisicaro, Logan E. Miller, Fang F. Yu, Elizabeth M. Davenport, Yin Xi, Jillian E. Urban, Ben C. Wagner, Alexander K. Powers, Christopher T. Whitlow, Joel D. Stitzel, Joseph A. Maldjian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to assess the relationship between regional white matter diffusion imaging changes and finite element strain measures in nonconcussed youth football players. Pre- and post-season diffusion-weighted imaging was performed in 102 youth football subject-seasons, in which no concussions were diagnosed. The diffusion data were normalized to the IXI template. Percent change in fractional anisotropy (%ΔFA) images were generated. Using data from the head impact telemetry system, the cumulative maximum principal strain one times strain rate (CMPS1 × SR), a measure of the cumulative tensile brain strain and strain rate for one season, was calculated for each subject. Two linear regression analyses were performed to identify significant positive or inverse relationships between CMPS1 × SR and %ΔFA within the international consortium for brain mapping white matter mask. Age, body mass index, days between pre- and post-season imaging, previous brain injury, attention disorder diagnosis, and imaging protocol were included as covariates. False discovery rate correction was used with corrected alphas of 0.025 and voxel thresholds of zero. Controlling for all covariates, a significant, positive linear relationship between %ΔFA and CMPS1 × SR was identified in the bilateral cingulum, fornix, internal capsule, external capsule, corpus callosum, corona radiata, corticospinal tract, cerebral and middle cerebellar peduncle, superior longitudinal fasciculus, and right superior fronto-occipital fasciculus. Post hoc analyses further demonstrated significant %ΔFA differences between high-strain football subjects and noncollision control athletes, no significant %ΔFA differences between low-strain subjects and noncollision control athletes, and that CMPS1 × SR significantly explained more %ΔFA variance than number of head impacts alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2763-2771
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of neurotrauma
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021


  • DTI
  • FA
  • football
  • nonconcussed
  • strain
  • strain rate
  • white matter
  • youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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