As football season nears its end, researchers are working on a device that may help detect brain injuries, particularly concussions, in football players. Concussions are the most common injury in the sport of football. Each year, over 40,000 high school football players suffer from a concussion due to the sport. This number does not even take into account college and professional football players. Nationally, over 300,000 individuals suffer from a sports related concussion. As more and more football players suffer from multiple concussions during their football career, coaches and trainers are becoming more aware of the growing problem.
Over the years notable NFL players, such as Troy Aikman and Steve Young, have retired from the sport after suffering from multiple concussions. Multiple concussions in an individual greatly increases the risk of permanent brain damage and even death. Brain injuries often show different symptoms each time one occurs because of the complexity of the brain. The symptoms of a concussion vary in each instance and in each individual. This makes it extremely difficult to diagnose a concussion, thus making an individual more prone to multiple injuries.
DETECT (Display Enhanced Testing for Cognitive Impairment and Traumatic Brain Injury) is a devise that works in as little as 7 minutes to diagnose a concussion after an injury. The helmet-like device works by quantitatively comparing the player’s response time after the injury to response times recorded when the player was not injured. Researchers working on DETECT are optimistic that the device may also be used to detect other brain trauma related conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, with the device. DETECT is still in its initial stages, but researchers hope to have the product on the market within 2-3 years.