Thursday, February 03, 2011

Putting the "cuss" in concussion


Everyone who knows me knows concussion is my hobby. Not getting one--saying I am writing about them. So here goes. Again.

First, concussion is a mild brain injury—brain damage, not a funny little rite of passage. The soft, gelatinous brain surges in the hard skull due to a blow. This upsets thinking, memory, and even how your body works—metabolic function. Ooops. Not good.

The symptoms, which can take hours to develop, include not remembering things up to the hit, dizziness, nausea, and confusion, among others.

Researchers at the Univ of Penn have identified a little test called the King-Devick test that can be given to a player on the sideline. It takes one minute and consists of reading single-digit numbers off index cards. Each player takes it and has a baseline reaction time on file. If he or she takes a hit to the head, they get the test again. Even a 5-sec lapse in time from the baseline can indicate a brain change.

This measures vision, cognition, “with it-ness”, and can show a change.

Usually the treatment is rest. Out of the game! You’re done for today and many places now, until a certified person says it’s OK to come back to practice or play.

Once the brain has been forcibly slopped around like this, the next time, it is even more damaging. Even with a helmet, football players experience hundreds of such blows. Boxers, too. Rest begins not to repair the damage.

Also in concussion news, a reminder that traumatic brain injury was up 21% in the first eight weeks of the professional football season. Think of that on Super Sunday.

A mechanical engineering prof at Villanova is at work on a helmet containing a computer chip that will transmit brain wave analysis for coaches and trainers on the sideline. We could be seeing this—Mindscope (BCILab) software--by 2014.

If you have an hour—check this out… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mB1gFXfOZU

Also there is more info on the CDC website… http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/

A mind is a terrible thing to squoosh—even for millions of dollars.

No comments: