Confusion around concussions

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- If you're a parent and your child plays sports chances are you have concerns about head injury.


Concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy have been a focus of study in recent years. I spoke via Skype with a doctor, whose company is trying to help parents and athletes be preemptive when it comes to head trauma.

Dr. Sanjeev Sharma of Highmark Interactive, a Toronto based medical technology company that focuses on concussions. He says part of the solution is being proactive through technology by putting equipment which can test brain function right in our hands. He says, "We felt strongly that all we wanted was to have someone have a mobile device and once they download our software, especially now that we're FDA cleared they essentially have a medical device to help them understand their neurological function."

It seems like almost daily there's news about sports-related concussions. A recent study showed Boys football had the highest rate of concussion at 10 for every 10 thousand practices or games, girls soccer was second at a rate of 8 for every 10 thousand, boys soccer had a much lower rate.

At the professional level, the Associated Press reported recently that the pre-season game concussion rates in the NFL increased by 44% this year.

A Concussion is a traumatic brain injury that can range from minor to severe in symptoms. Dr. Sharma adds, "Either you have a concussion or you don't. Now once you have a concussion there are degrees of severity with which you are struggling with your concussive symptoms."

Now which type of concussion has UT QB Brian Maurer been experiencing? Not sure, but he did visit a specialist at Vanderbilt recently to try and find out. According to Dr. Sharma, "The specialists are trying to figure out which vectors of neurological function are impaired. Is it vision, balance, mood or mental health. You need to have comprehensive and multiple assessments to really understand when someone's been injured. Are they really ready to return to pay or are their scores significantly different from when they were healthy? If we know what the issue is sooner we can intervene and figure out what part of the brain is potentially injured and that can help get people back to healthy safe play sooner."

Dr. Sharma says those assessments using modern technology, like your phone, take approximately 10 minutes and will provide immediate results. Again, the idea is to engage athletes, through
interactive mobile games, see how they function when well
as opposed to after a worrisome hit or collision.

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