Jan 29, 2015
Concussion Diagnosis & Technology

By Patrick Bohn

In the past several years, concussion management has taken massive leaps forward as research has helped guide schools and states in enacting more stringent return-to-play policies. The science of diagnosing concussions is taking similar strides thanks to work being done at two universities.
At Northern Arizona University, the school has partnered with the Mayo Clinic to test the possibility of using a robot to assess if football players have concussions, and will unveil the technology during this week’s game. The robot will have cameras controlled by a Mayo Clinic neurologist in Phoenix, and the goal is to see if it will allow them to asses a player’s condition and discuss it with the medical personnel at the game. While the researchers hope it will help high school teams without an athletic trainer on-site asses players for concussions, the Mayo Clinic personnel will not be providing any consultations during the upcoming game.

“Athletes at professional and collegiate levels have lobbied for access to neurologic expertise on the sideline. As we seek new and innovative ways to provide the highest level of concussion care and expertise, we hope that teleconcussion can meet this need and give athletes at all levels immediate access to concussion experts,” Bert Vargas, M.D., told the Arizona Daily Sun.

At San Diego State University, researchers have developed technology and a balance board that they claim can measure an athlete’s balance with 99 percent. The balance tracking system is called the B-TrackS and it measures how much an athlete standing on it is swaying. The researchers claim that soon-to-be published research will indicate it is more accurate than having an athletic trainer asses balance.

“There are athletes out there who are playing with concussions and not knowing it,” Daniel Goble, an exercise and nutritional sciences professor at San Diego State told The Medical News. “We’re taking the uncertainty out of the equation and giving hard data to quantify whether or not a concussion actually occurred.”

Currently, the system is being used by the Aztec rugby team, and will be used by the men’s soccer team and the men’s and women’s water polo team as well.

Patrick Bohn is an Assistant Editor at Training & Conditioning.

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