Diagnosing, Evaluating and Treating Concussions in Football

New research out of the Florida State University College of Medicine suggests that more than 40 percent of retired professional football players showed signs of traumatic brain injury.

Although the study was relatively small, it produced some concerning findings. For their study, researchers conducted MRI scans on 40 retired NFL players whose ages ranged from 27 to 56 years old. The average age was just 36 years old and most participants had been out of the league fewer than five years. On average, participants reported an average of eight concussions, although they also stated the suffered other subconcussive-like traumas throughout their playing careers.

To get a better understanding of how this repetitive trauma affected the players’ brains, researchers conducted MRI scans to measure the amount of damage in the brain’s white matter, which connects different brain regions. 17 players (43 percent) showed significant deviations in their white matter when compared to healthy individuals of the same age. Researchers say this deviation is considered evidence of a traumatic brain injury.

Could An App Help Curb Concussions?

It’s clear that tracking and managing concussions is difficult at the professional level, but it may be even more problematic at high school and youth levels as these players don’t always have access to a full medical staff. Oftentimes concussion management falls on the players, coaches and parents, and they may not know much about concussion management. That’s why researchers at The Medical College of Wisconsin are trying to put concussion management information in the pocket of everyone with a smartphone by creating an informative app.

Brain injury researcher Adam Pfaller said the need for a comprehensive concussion management app was “obvious.”

“There were no good apps on the market that track symptoms for an athlete who gets a concussion,” said Pfaller. “Plus, patients can have biased or poor recall.”

Pfaller said he noticed the need for a concussion tracking app after serving as a youth football coach.

“I was a volunteer football coach and I thought that this symptoms checklist would be a great idea to help out the your football coaches who don’t have daily access to trainers,” said Pfaller.

The app puts a variety of tools at a person’s fingertips. Players can record a baseline assessment and track symptom severity using a 6-point scale, while coaches can read through helpful information about how to re-introduce players to activity and what dangerous symptoms they should look for after a concussion.

The app is called S.T.A.C., which stands for Symptom Tracking App for Concussions and is available in the app store my searching STAC Medical.

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