New Nebraska research center to study concussions

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The MRI machine also can be used on game days to assess injuries of all kinds.

Molfese said the sideline concussion assessment tool would be the first of what he hopes are many groundbreaking developments to come out of CB3. The device would allow medical personnel to go beyond the standard practice of asking the injured athlete questions and judge, based on his or her answers, whether it’s safe for him or her to return to a game.

If a linebacker took a hit to the head, he would come to the sideline and have an electrode net placed over his head. Battery-powered brain-recording equipment would measure the player’s responses to stimuli.

“We can get an idea of what area of the brain is being involved in the process, whether the speed of processing is at the rate it should be,” Molfese said. “The different areas of the brain that normally integrate information quickly stop doing that, so that’s another way we should be able to pick up whether there is an injury or not.”

Molfese said the device, which should be ready for use within one to two years, eventually could be used in hospitals to screen patients for head injuries.

“It would be routine,” he said, “and they’d know within 10 minutes.”

Osborne said he’s fascinated by the possibilities. He said suspected concussions were dealt with the same way throughout his football coaching career. The athletic trainer would hold up two or three fingers in front of the woozy player’s face as he came off the field and ask him how many.

“If you could come close,” Osborne said, “they’d put you back in. That wasn’t very effective.”

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