A Simple Device That Can Detect Concussions

As the high school and college football seasons approach us, parental concerns regarding the risk of concussion begin to surface. Unfortunately, resources to prevent concussions and other injuries remain limited. State-of-the-art football helmets have recently been released and are said to measure how much force each player’s head is absorbing and relay that data via telemetry to trainers on the sidelines. At $1,500 per helmet, this ground-breaking device can be pricey for the average team or family. A new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine allows a team to assess the likelihood of one of its players sustaining an on-field concussion without the high cost of a fancy helmet. The study begins by explaining the ability to assess the status of a concussion: evaluate the player’s reaction time, since it is known to increase immediately after a concussion. Dr. Broglio, director of the University of Michigan’s NeuroSport Research Laboratory and co-author of the study, set out to develop an inexpensive means of measuring reaction time. The idea of attaching a hockey puck to a wooden dowel came to mind. He marked centimeters in ink along the length of the dowel. To test the reaction time of the player, an evaluator would simply hold the device in front of the athlete who is seated at a table with one arm resting on the surface and his hand at the table’s edge. The evaluator aligns the puck with the bottom of the athlete’s hand and lets go. The athlete then attempts to catch the falling stick. The evaluator then marks where his hand lands. This gives a trainer a baseline measure of someone’s reaction time. Later, when a player is suspected of having a concussion, the trainer could use the device to evaluate the player’s reaction time and determine if it is slower than normal. During the study, the players that were believed to have sustained a concussion showed a slower reaction time of about one second. The un-concussed athlete, on the other hand, displayed equivalent or faster reaction times to the re-test. Although the dowel test is successful and inexpensive, it should not be replaced for a trip to the doctor’s office. Contact us 24/7 and fill out our free evaluation form today. Read more on this article.