Does My Brain Say It's Safe to Play Sports Again?

 

Impact:

Sports are an amazing opportunity for kids to improve their physical health, learn teamwork, and develop strong social support networks. Unfortunately, many sports, particularly soccer, run the risk of kids getting a concussion. Most concussions aren't that bad. You get hit in the head, feel dizzy, and in a couple weeks all is well again. Unfortunately, the consequences of a concussion become a lot more severe if you sustain a second one while recovering from a first concussion. This means that it is critical to know when a child is fully recovered from a concussion and can safely resume playing their sport. Scientists have struggled to develop a good way to diagnose concussions and their recovery, but Branch Out has funded a study that hopes to be a game-changer (literally!). 

 

 

The Scientists

Chris Duszynski, PhD Student

Follow Chris on Twitter @cdz4

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Jeff Dunn

University of Calgary

Dr. Dunn's Website

The Study:

fNIRS (functional near infrared spectroscopy) is a brain scanning technique that's portable. This makes it ideal to scan the brains of kids who may have sustained a concussion while playing sports. This study will try to improve previous game-side concussion diagnosis by scanning kid's brains and seeing if their brain activity indicates a concussion, or a full recovery from a previous concussion. As you might guess, kids just want to play and could easily lie about how they feel to get back in the game, putting themselves at risk for a repeat-concussion. Since their brain activity can't lie, this is a huge improvement in keeping kids safe from concussions while still letting them enjoy sports and all of their benefits. 

Potential Impact:

This project aims to develop a non-invasive wearable technology for measuring brain function. If successful, this technology will be commercialized and will provide an objective tool to aid physicians and trained healthcare providers in the diagnosis and management of concussion and traumatic brain injury. 

Amount Funded: $26,500

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Additional NeuroCAM content coming soon!