FEB 06, 2020 9:53 AM PST

Concussion detector could pick up concussions in athletes, right from the sidelines

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

Concussions are brain traumas caused by a blow to the head or a whiplash injury. The risk of concussions is greatly heightened in athletes playing high contact sports. Studies estimate that sports-related concussions occur between 1.6 and 3.8 million times per year in the United States alone.

 

 

Despite these staggering statistics, concussions remain poorly defined and are an ongoing challenge to accurately diagnose. Typically, imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT) scans are not able to pick up the subtle signs of brain injury following impact: mild bruising or brain bleeds. Instead, emergency room physicians rely largely on highly subjective functional impairments triggered by concussions, like issues with speech, memory loss, and difficulty with balance and coordination. 

Doctors and engineers at the University of Michigan have invented a portable device (pictured below) that could change this. Using pulses of infrared lasers, the device detects the early signs of concussion on a cellular level. This completely noninvasive method works simply by placing the device on an individual’s forehead.

 

 

Infrared pulses penetrate deep into the cranium and interact with cytochrome C oxidase, a metabolic enzyme that can provide diagnostic clues as to how efficiently brain cells are using oxygen. During the early phases of concussion, levels of cytochrome C oxidase plunge, allowing the early identification of individuals requiring immediate medical attention. 

As Steven Broglio, director of the Michigan Concussion Center said, “The quicker you identify a concussion, the faster you can begin the recovery process of resting and gradually returning to normal activity. Research in the last 10 years has shown that resting sooner can shorten recovery time, helping people get back to school, work and military duty.”

 

Sources: University of Michigan News.

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
NOV 14, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Half of CBD Users Test Positive for THC in Urine Tests
NOV 14, 2020
Half of CBD Users Test Positive for THC in Urine Tests
Despite the growing popularity of cannabidiol (CBD) products, there has been little research directly assessing whether ...
NOV 15, 2020
Neuroscience
Hearing Test Can Predict Autism in Newborns
NOV 15, 2020
Hearing Test Can Predict Autism in Newborns
For some time now, researchers have been aware that children and adults with autism tend to have different sensory syste ...
DEC 30, 2020
Neuroscience
Brain Imaging Predicts Risk of PTSD
DEC 30, 2020
Brain Imaging Predicts Risk of PTSD
Until now, why posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops in some and not others following a physical and/ or psychol ...
FEB 02, 2021
Immunology
Pumping the Brakes on Stomach Cancer Progression
FEB 02, 2021
Pumping the Brakes on Stomach Cancer Progression
By the time stomach cancer is diagnosed, it’s often bad news for patients. The disease often presents with relativ ...
FEB 17, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Urine Test Bypasses the Need for Prostate Biopsies
FEB 17, 2021
Urine Test Bypasses the Need for Prostate Biopsies
Researchers have created a urine test for prostate cancer that could make unnecessary biopsies a thing of the past. The ...
MAR 02, 2021
Cardiology
Creating a Light Switch in the Heart to Regulate Heart Rate
MAR 02, 2021
Creating a Light Switch in the Heart to Regulate Heart Rate
Often when it is dark, we go for a flashlight or our phone to see where we are going. What if I told you that is much th ...
Loading Comments...