A Real-Time Concussion Finder
Brain injuries are notoriously difficult to diagnose or evaluate.
Particularly for people playing sports, it would be a great advance to be able to find out whether they have actually sustained a concussion, and if so, its severity. Once thought to be a "mild" traumatic brain injury, medical professionals are increasingly reporting the potential long-term consequences of concussion.
Now a study presented the American Academy of Neurology’s (AAN) 68th Annual Meeting reveals how an ultrasound headset could be used to better identify the brain injury among athletes.
Conventional transcranial Doppler (TCD) devices measure the speed and variability of blood flow through the brain's arteries, but that’s not enough to accurately identify concussion. The authors of this study used an advanced TCD headset, allowing them to get a better view of how blood flows through the middle cerebral artery -- one of the three major arteries that supply blood to the brain.
They tested the advanced TCD device on 235 high school athletes, 66 of whom played contact sports and had recently been diagnosed with concussion. The remaining 169 played either contact or non-contact sports and had not been diagnosed with concussion.
The researchers used the headset to measure the cerebral artery blood flow an average of 6 days following injury.
The result: The advanced TCD device had the ability to differentiate between healthy and concussed athletes with 83% accuracy. That’s compared to just 53% to 60% accuracy for conventional TCD techniques.
The hope is that with improvement in this technique, there may one day be an instrument that detects concussions on the sidelines of every sport.