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Ethical Implications of Neuroimaging in Sports Concussion

Valerio, J. MD, MSc; Illes, J. PhD

Section Editor(s): Caplan, Bruce PhD, ABPP; Bogner, Jennifer PhD, ABPP

Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: May/June 2012 - Volume 27 - Issue 3 - p 216–221
doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e3182229b6c
Focus on Clinical Research and Practice, Part 2

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1.6 to 3.8 million traumatic brain injuries that occur each year are related to sports injuries. New research has broadened the understanding of the acute and chronic pathophysiology of concussion associated with brain injury, and recent advances in diagnostic capabilities with neuroimaging are leading to new ethical questions around sport and care of the head-injured athlete. In this review, we synthesize the current literature on neuroimaging for assessing concussed athletes and explore ethical issues in the context of return to play, short- and long-term neurologic health effects following concussion and resource allocation that are emerging with new implications as neurotechnology becomes an increasingly powerful tool on the playing field of health.

National Core for Neuroethics, Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

Corresponding Author: J. Valerio, MD, MSc, National Core for Neuroethics, Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, 2211 Wesbrook Mall, Koerner, S124, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (

The work related to this paper is also supported by CIHR/INMHA CNE #85117, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund, and NIH/NIMH R01# MH084282.

The authors are grateful to the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute for supporting this clinical neuroethics work.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.