Concussions are almost impossible to objectively diagnose, and with so many sports being so physical, concussion injuries are a rather common occurrence. Professional sports give players the added pressure of thinking they need to be in the game at all times, no matter what their injury may be; there is money, respect, and playing time at stake. According to doctors, current concussion tests are susceptible to influence from players who do not want to be diagnosed because they want to keep playing. There is a fear that the flaws in these tests are being used to misdiagnose an actual concussion injury so that the player can return to the playing field, even though they have suffered a traumatic head injury. However, new research could provide the one thing that sports doctors and scientists need to make concussion testing protocol cheat proof.
An eye test has been developed that may be able to detect the exact symptoms that are presented as a result of a concussion by simply measuring the pupil’s response to light. If this method is determined to be effective, it could completely change the way concussion testing is done, resulting in a more precise and exact diagnosis, and protecting players health.
Flaws in Current Testing:
Medical sports professionals find that current concussion testing for players relies too heavily on the player’s feedback. The current protocol for concussion testing is to take the player aside that has experienced the head trauma, and ask them how they are feeling and performing memory and balance testing consisting of standing on one leg, and walking in a straight line; compares closely with a field sobriety test. With these tests, the diagnosis can be determined by how the player says they feel at the time, and whether or not they feel like being diagnosed with a concussion or not.
The Simple but Effective Eye Test:
Researchers from the Australian National University, over the past 10 years, have developed a device that can measure minute changes in the response of pupils and how they react to light. Our visual system is vulnerable to the impacts of a concussion and is connected to half the brain’s circuitry. The eye test can be performed in a matter of minutes, which is crucial during a professional sports game, and can deliver immediate results of whether or not the player is experiencing a concussion or not. The player will look into a screen, and on that screen will be a series of lights. The player however will not be aware of these lights on the screen, and there is a camera to measure how their pupils are reacting to the lights. Based on the results, team doctors can determine if the player has suffered a brain injury like a concussion.
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