Tag Archives: technology
A television station in Huntsville, Alabama — WHNT — has reported that the U.S. Army is making good use of a $500,000 grant it received from the National Football League to explore ways to prevent concussions.
“This is a problem that does affect the Army, when paratroopers fall, part of their landing procedures are to fall, roll and hit the ground, so they can undergo the same kind of impact here where they fall and smack their heads,” Army Research Laboratory engineer David Lowry told the station.
Further, the station reported that “Engineers at the Army Research Laboratory are designing tethers that will prevent a whiplash-like fall when a player or soldier is hit to the ground. The tethers would be attached to the helmet and would lock up when hit, restraining the head and lowering the acceleration rate at which the head hits the ground, possibly preventing a concussion.”
By Brian Burnsed, of the NCAA
During its December meeting in Indianapolis, the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports discussed and agreed with the core principles of a recent proposal by the Southeastern Conference that calls for creating a Concussion Safety Protocol Committee.
The proposed committee would oversee concussion treatment and management protocols for all contact sports among the 65 Division I schools that were recently granted rule-making autonomy in several areas.
The draft proposal would require representatives for each contact sport at each school to submit a written protocol to the committee for review on an annual basis; receive approval of the protocol prior to participating in competition; rehearse the concussion procedures before the first practice of each season and at least once a month thereafter; and provide information to the committee, whenever requested, regarding any incidents in which a student-athlete might have suffered a concussion.
The concussion protocols and procedures submitted by each team, the proposal states, should adhere to the best practices espoused in the NCAA inter-association concussion diagnosis and management guidelines, which were released in July and endorsed by 11 leading medical organizations.
Aside from recommending that teams should rehearse the protocol annually rather than every month, the committee agreed with the essential concept proposed by the conference and encouraged the rest of Division I as well as Divisions II and III to adopt similar legislation.
“One of the most critical elements of this document is it still allows for each institution to make independent medical decisions in the interest of their student-athletes,” said Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports chair Brant Berkstresser, the head athletic trainer at Harvard University. “This proposal will assist in the education of our medical staffs, athletics directors and coaches on the inter-association guidelines, which institutions should follow when developing their concussion management plans.”
The committee also reviewed information about wearable technology, such as global positioning systems, accelerometers that measure speed and impacts and heart monitors that help determine fatigue. Such devices are increasingly used throughout the membership, particularly at Division I schools with ample resources. The committee indicated it does not want to stand in the way of using tools it views as potentially valuable and understands that proliferation is inevitable as the devices become more affordable. But it encouraged members to exercise prudence and caution when using them.
While the technology can assist coaches who seek to measure sport performance and to increase practice and training efficiency, the committee recommended:
- The data generated by those technologies should be used in conjunction with the sports medicine team to ensure health and safety concerns are taken into account.
- No matter what the data indicate, athletics health care providers should have unchallengeable autonomous authority to determine medical management and make return-to-play decisions.
- The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel should consider changing relevant playing rules to ensure they facilitate the implementation of the new technologies.
- Those permissive modifications should not run afoul of existing playing equipment standards, certifications and warranties.
- The committee’s recommendations will likely catalyze a number of discussions and changes regarding wearable devices as the Playing Rules Oversight Panel and individual sport committees begin altering existing regulations to pave the way for increased use of the technologies.
An article published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine— “Detection of Concussion Using Cranial Accelerometry” by Paul S. Auerbach, MD, MS; Jennifer G. Baine, MD; Megan L. Schott, MD; Amy Greenhaw, MA, ATC; Monika G. Acharya; and Wade S. Smith, MD, PhD—has shown that the Jan Medical Nautilus BrainPulse™ technology has detected a consistent pattern correlated with concussion. This paper provides the first indication that the measurement of brain motion due to pulsatile blood flow can detect physiological changes in the brain correlated with concussion. Out of 84 players enrolled in the Stanford University Medical School Institutional Review Board-approved protocol, BrainPulse detected 10 out of 13 confirmed concussions for a 77% sensitivity; and 79 out of 91 recordings were confirmed to not have a concussion for an 87% specificity.
Paul Lovoi, PhD, founder and CEO of Jan Medical, stated, “While these findings are very encouraging, additional trials will be necessary to establish this technology as an objective measure of concussion, studies that we are currently undertaking.”
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), over 1.7 million children and adults annually suffer a concussion in the U.S., and 20% are sports-related. No physiological measure is available to detect concussion or to monitor concussed subjects to determine recovery status. Evidence suggests that a second concussive event for someone recovering from an initial concussion can lead to permanent brain damage and, in severe cases, death.
The study was conducted at a Northern California high school over the course of one football season involving the majority of both the varsity and junior varsity players. All the players were recorded with the BrainPulse at the beginning of the season prior to any potentially concussive contact. Over the course of the season, SCAT2 (Sports Concussion Assessment Tool) was used to assist in the clinical determination of concussion. “This new discovery holds promise to provide a more objective measure of concussion so as to allow a safer return to play and the protection of our youth in contact sports,” said Wade Smith, MD, PhD, Vice Chair of Neurology at UCSF.
The brain has a normal pulse driven by the cardiac cycle. The impact of this pulse on the skull can in turn be detected and measured. The Nautilus BrainPulse from Jan Medical is designed to measure the normal brain pulse as well as disruptions of the brain pulse. By digitizing the signal patterns from headset-mounted sensors measuring the skull’s motion, and extracting features from them, algorithms can be developed to identify normal and a variety of abnormal brain pulse patterns. The BrainPulse sensors passively measure the skull in recording sessions that take approximately 3 minutes to conduct. The entire device itself is portable and provides analysis immediately once the recording session is complete. Dr. Lovoi added, “We see evidence that our technology can contribute to a wide range neurological deficits.”