BALTIMORE, Md. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Between 1.7 million and three million sports-related concussions happen every year. As many as 300,000 of those injured are football players. Concussions are tricky to diagnose; a player might look fine, but develop symptoms hours later. Now there is a new, portable test designed to take the guess work away.
Football is a tough sport. A hard strike to the head is not uncommon. Twenty-one-year-old Towson University linebacker Zane Ventimiglia suffered not one, but two concussions last season. He didn’t see either hit coming, but felt them after.
“I remember being pretty off-kilter. Not able to balance well,” Ventimiglia said.
Athletic director Nathan Wilder says right after injury trainers have to rely partly on subjective tests, like how an athlete looks or says he feels.
“These kids are pretty resilient; they’ll take a hit, come off and say they’re OK. Then a couple of minutes later, they’re not,” Wilder said.
Now there’s a new portable device designed to give an objective assessment. The BrainScope measures brain waves.
“When somebody hits the head, it changes the brain electrical activity pattern,” said Leslie Prichep, PhD, Chief Science Officer at BrainScope. (Read Full Interview)
It’s designed so a trainer can easily use it, there’s a disposable headset with sensors that attach to the injured athlete’s forehead. A smartphone with specialized software picks up the readings.
“Using the sophisticated algorithms that the BrainScope one implements, it looks for that set of changes that are distinctive of a traumatic brain injury,” Prichep continued.
The readings can help trainers decide whether the athlete needs more advanced medical screening. A real-time scan for brain injury, without hours of delay.
The FDA has approved the BrainScope device, and it’s funded by the NFL and the Department of Defense. The BrainScope is already being used by some athletic department personnel, like those at Towson University near Baltimore.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field and Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer, Roque Correa; Editor.
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TOPIC: BRAINSCOPE TEST FOR CONCUSSION
REPORT: MB #4408
BACKGROUND: A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that affects brain function. Effects are usually temporary but can include headaches and problems with concentration, memory, balance and coordination. Concussions are usually caused by a blow to the head. Violently shaking the head and upper body also can cause concussions. Some concussions cause you to lose consciousness, but most do not. It’s possible to have a concussion and not realize it. The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not show up immediately. Symptoms can last for days, weeks or even longer. There are many signs, such as headaches, loss of consciousness, confusion, amnesia, dizziness, ringing in the ears, nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, delayed response to questions, and fatigue.
DIAGNOSING: Diagnosing a concussion can be difficult sometimes, because there is no gold standard for concussion. Leslie Prichep, PhD, the Chief Scientific Officer of BrainScope Company and a Professor of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine says it’s very much based on the presence or absence of symptoms. Doctors may perform a neurological examination where they check a patient’s vision, hearing, strength and sensation, balance, coordination, and reflexes. A cranial computerized tomography (CT) scan is the standard test to assess the brain right after injury. A CT scan uses a series of X-rays to obtain cross-sectional images of the skull and brain. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be used to identify changes in the brain or to diagnose complications that may occur after a concussion, but there is a need for more accessible diagnosing tools, which is where BrainScope comes in.
NEW TECHNOLOGY: Dr. Prichep states that “BrainScope is a neurotechnology company. They have developed a first of its type hand-held medical device that allows for a rapid assessment of brain injury. It gives an output to the clinician, to the user and to the doctor that helps him in his assessment of that brain injury by providing an objective biomarker related to the impairment in the brain. It doesn’t replace the CT scan but what it does is give you an additional piece of objective information about the likelihood that individual would be CT positive. It is based on brain electrical activity in the frontal and frontal temporal regions of the brain. Sensors are placed on the head and that records the brain electrical activity. It goes directly in real time into the hand held device.”
(Source: Leslie Prichep, PhD)
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