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What is an MRI?
Although many people may be familiar with the appearance of a magnetic resonance imaging (or MRI) machine (a medical device with a table upon which the patient lies and a large circular contraption through which the supine patient moves), fewer understand how these machines work or the benefits they provide. Developed in 1977, MRI machines are essentially comprised of two large, powerful magnets. When the human body passes near these magnets, the magnetic forces cause the molecules within the patient’s body to align in one direction and then move back to its original position. (The patient is unable to feel these tiny, microscopic movements.) The MRI machine is able to detect the movement of these molecules and, using this data, create a “map” or image of the scanned area. The information about a scanned area that can be provided by an MRI is oftentimes different than the information that can be gained using other scanning devices like X-ray machines. Therefore, when used in conjunction with other appropriate scanning devices and techniques, an MRI can be used to provide medical professionals with a more complete picture of a body part or organ. It is also beneficial for our Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Lawyersto better understand the medical challenages your child has to account for.
The Study’s Results and Implications
Despite the availability of MRI technology for the past 40 years, few studies have used the device to study the brains of individuals affected by cerebral palsy. Using MRI technology, researchers involved in the study “Volumetric Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Brain and Cerebellum in Children with Cerebral Palsy” (published in the July 3 issue of BioMed Research International), researchers looked at images of the brains of nearly 100 children affected by cerebral palsy as well as a nearly-equal number of brains of children without the condition but who were identical in age and sex to the children with cerebral palsy. The MRI data showed researchers that, in children with cerebral palsy:
1. There was an increased likelihood of periventricular leukomalacia being present. This is a medical condition characterized by bleeding near the ventricles of the brain;2. There is also an increased likelihood that hydrocephaly – build-up of fluid within the brain – is present;3. Total brain volume was “substantially” less than the brain volume of children without the condition. This included the cerebellum, the area of the brain responsible for movement;4. Gray matter volume was reduced, which suggested damage and degradation.
Overall, the picture painted by the MIR data in the study helped researchers gain a better understanding of what happens from a physiological standpoint when an individual develops cerebral palsy. The researchers concluded that increased usage of MRI scans in patients with cerebral palsy can not only help detect treatable conditions such as hydrocephaly, but it can also help medical professionals create a more individualized prognosis and treatment plan for patients. This is important, as no two individuals are affected by cerebral palsy in the same manner.