Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Devices to Monitor Concussions? Can They?

“Concussion in youth sports is a serious public health issue.  With all the recent attention to preventing concussion in professional athletes, concerned parents are eager to protect their children’s brains.  The Impact Indicator, a chinstrap that measures the force of a hit and signals the likelihood of a concussion,  is another device that is aimed at greater protection.  The question is, “How accurate is it at detecting concussion?”  The research isn’t out yet, so it has not been independently scientifically validated.  It should still be considered experimental and not yet fully evidence based.  The reality is that if you suspect a concussion, no information from a device should deter you from getting the athlete to a health care professional for an exam.  We know that you do not have to have a hit to the head to sustain a concussion.  A whiplash or strong force can cause a concussion.  In such cases, a mouthguard or  helmet or chinstrap can’t protect against a concussion or signal that one has taken place.  

Better equipment in youth football is important and the advent of the Impact Indicator is just one step in the evolution of safer equipment.  With further research and development of such protective devices, we may be better able to protect youth athletes. But we must remember that no one tool or device is best suited to diagnose or prevent concussion.   We should use all the available updated knowledge, equipment, and resources we have, and a health care team approach, to provide the safest athletic environment for our youth.”

Rosemarie Scolaro Moser, PhD, ABN, ABPP-RP
Director, Sports Concussion Center of New Jersey
Author of Ahead of the Game: The Parents’ Guide to Youth Sports Concussion, (UPNE)

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