Research has shown that high school players may suffer changes in brain function from undiagnosed mild traumatic brain injury. Normal signs and symptoms of a head injury are not always apparent, so the player stays in the game, continuing to take more hits. The impact damages the brain, nerves and surrounding tissues.
New Technology Developed
To combat the problem, a new helmet has been developed, equipped with six sensors called accelerometers. Data is collected from the sensors and studied to observe how the athletes sustain impacts. Scientists hope to learn just what happens after a player experiences a concussion. As it stands, players and coaches are left to determine when the player may return to the field.
This may change with a device called BrainScope. Although the initial design was intended to decide when a player could return to the field, the device has also proved useful for studying the long-term effects of traumatic brain injury in the following weeks and months after the concussion.
How BrainScope Works
Electroencephalograph (EEG) technology has traditionally been used to measure the electrical activity in the brain through the surface of the head. Such measurements are difficult to use in the field because sensors can be confused by background noise and head movements.
The BrainScope technology takes EEG technology and makes it more robust, portable, and easy to use. Algorithms process data from the sensors, letting researchers learn more about head injuries while they are happening.
BrainScope is currently using the device for testing in military and athletic settings since those two situations experience the highest number of traumatic brain injuries. In the study, the BrainScope device was used on 400 football players to analyze the brain activity.  It gathered a base reading at the start of the season. Data was collected immediately following head injuries, as well as days later. Players also took cognitive function and balance tests to determine the severity of the injury. In all, twenty-eight players experienced a concussion during the season.
Once the researchers had all the data, they compared the changes in brain activity between the injured players, the non-injured players, and the non-athlete controls. The results showed that all symptoms, balance, and cognitive function returned to normal as soon as the first week following the concussion. Electrical brain activity did not recover so quickly. Six weeks later, a subsequent test showed activity had returned to normal.
While BrainScope is still only considered a research tool, the device may have potential in professional sports. Researchers first need to do a better job of outlining the characteristics that mark the post-concussive phase and then compare results to traditional neurological evaluations.
If you or a loved one suffered a brain injury and need more information, contact our office. Our experienced attorneys will provide you with a free consultation and work to ensure that you receive any monetary compensation you deserve.