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
APR 19, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Better Disease Risk Predictions May Come From Ancestry Data, Not Race
APR 19, 2021
Better Disease Risk Predictions May Come From Ancestry Data, Not Race
Researchers have suggested that it's time for medicine to move away from demographic labels that are too narrow to captu ...
APR 29, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Can We Diagnose Disease Based on How "Sticky" Cells Are?
APR 29, 2021
Can We Diagnose Disease Based on How "Sticky" Cells Are?
How “sticky” cells are, or their viscosity, holds a wealth of information about their health and functionali ...
JUL 15, 2021
Technology
Raman Spectroscopy Helps Track IBD Patient Response to Treatment
JUL 15, 2021
Raman Spectroscopy Helps Track IBD Patient Response to Treatment
While there have been multiple methods of evaluating whether a patient with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is respondi ...
JUL 20, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Wearable Health Monitors Powered by Sweaty Fingertips
JUL 20, 2021
Wearable Health Monitors Powered by Sweaty Fingertips
Fingertips have thousands of sweat-producing glands, churning out anywhere from 100 to 1,000 times more sweat than other ...
AUG 31, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Five Questions to Help You Select the Best Cellular Stain
AUG 31, 2021
Five Questions to Help You Select the Best Cellular Stain
Cellular stains are organic fluorescent dyes or fluorescent conjugates designed to localize to a specific organelle or c ...
SEP 14, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
HIV Self-Test App Proves Promising
SEP 14, 2021
HIV Self-Test App Proves Promising
A new app allows users to self-test for HIV, which has proven to help positive patients get access to medical care and c ...
Loading Comments...