human-1211468_1280 In the last couple of years even months concussion research, assessment and treatment has been advancing at a very fast pace. So much so that it is in the news almost every day.

What we knew a few days ago has changed. How we  treat and assess has changed. Like anything else I have found out there is more than one way to assess and treat concussions. So where do we stand with all the information that is out there. Does the research in the lab translate into practical application in the clinic? Does everyone have the same access to testing?

There is so much information out there it can be overwhelming for you and the person or people taking care of you at home.

What access is there to the “average”  person. What does the average clinic have to work with and is there a hierarchy of who does what. Obviously professional athletes and university athletes both male and female young and old have an advantage to more “hi tech” diagnostics and research.

That being said let me bring to your attention some of the things that are happening with concussion assessment, treatment and research.

Keep in mind that this is just a small sample. That being said, at this point  there is not one “gadget” or blood test that I’m aware of that can definitively diagnose a concussion (it is also possible that after the posting of this article there has been an amazing discovery.)

At this point in time only a physician can diagnose a concussion. Many of us who are in this healthcare field as massage therapists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, athletic therapist and osteopaths may assess through case history and clinical testing.

Concussion Research

In Australia Samsung has created the  “brainband“. It’s a headband out fitted with biometric sensors designed to analyze impact to the head. In particular rugby players are wearing  it for experimental purposes.

In another study in the USA, Michigan State University has experimented with a headband equipped with three removable Band-Aid-sized strips capable of detecting and differentiating between the impacts football players withstand in practices and game. There is thought that it is not the concussion that causes brain damage later in life but repeated “sub-concussive” blows.

Not all players react to the same force the same way. Research shows that women are more vulnerable to concussions than men, David Kaufman, chair of the MSU Department of Neurology  , wrote in an email. Youths are also more at risk than adults.

Also for potential field testing is the “Eye Sync” created  by syncthink. This tool is like a binocular and tracks eye movements  and can tell whether the eye movement is normal without a baseline test.

Perhaps in time either of these tools may be implemented for a definitive assessment or diagnosis for concussion on the field or in the clinic.

In the clinic some physicians now have the option of using the “eVox” system that helps to objectively measure and optimally manage patients with memory loss, cognitive impairment etc. This unique system provides an assessment of the brain and cognition using multiple electro-physiological technologies combined in one portable, non-invasive, easy-to-use, in-office device.

As  time goes on technology gets better and more accurate with its results. The only challenge to these new technologies is accessibility to them.

We are getting closer to the possibility of a blood test for diagnosing a concussion. It appears that that a fragment of this protein spectrin called SNTF was commonly found in blood tests with individuals suffering from mild traumatic  brain injuries /concussions.blood tests for concussion

A recent cohort study completed by the Orlando Medical Center, Virginia Commonwealth University and Wayne State University School of Medicine discovered two biomarkers GFAB and UCHL1  . These protein biomarkers passed through the blood brain barrier (left the brain) with higher levels of  UCH-L1 (required for normal synaptic and cognitive function)  initially with GFAP (expressed in the central nervous system in astrocyte cells. It is involved in many important CNS processes, including cell communication and the functioning of the blood brain barrier.) showing up for a week.

There still needs to more study into this but his is promising.

Moving from blood tests and tools / gadgets on the field to management of long term concussions there is research into exercise as way to help with concussion recovery. The University of Buffalo recently received 2 million dollars to specifically investigate the effect of sub-threshold exercise for concussion recovery.

Something I think you probably knew but will remind you is that dementia is now being linked to minor trauma.

Research also shows that women are more vulnerable to concussions than men, and youths are also more at risk than adults.

These are just a few of the things that are happening with research

What significance does this have for you?

This information is significant because we can now look at new ways to minimize the opportunity for concussions for females and younger players. One of the things we do know is that females have a higher “angular’ velocity” than males with the muscles of the neck. What this means to you is that there is less rotational control of movement at the neck. If you remember whiplash, just as a direct blow to the head can lead to a concussion.

As previously mentioned in 7 ways to minimize the opportunity for concussion  building neck strength is essential for all sports that have contact or collision.

If you play on a team is there a qualified therapist to deal with your  mild traumatic brain injury (concussion) or do they have someone they can refer you too? Do they know how to do a sideline assessment and is there a protocol or policy your team follows.

Have you done baseline testing for concussion before the season starts?

What Should You Take Away From This Concussion Information?

  1. Science is evolving quickly and may one day concussions will be diagnosed with blood tests.
  2. There is an increase of “sideline” tools to be used to assess for concussions.
  3. The need for  proper “concussion’ prevention program.