Combating Concussions

(WNYT) There's a new tool helping to determine when a concussed brain has healed enough to let kids get back to their sport: baseline balance testing.

If a student athlete returns to their sport before their brain is fully healed they run the risk of a second injury with potentially, dire consequences.

"Second impact syndrome is when you have a second head injury probably immediately following the first and there's actually brain swell that occurs and it can kill the person," explains Dr. Audrey Paslow. 

As Dr. Paslow explained, neuro-congnitive testing done after an athlete suffers a concussion is good a determining recovery but the balance testing adds another layer of information. 

By determining a child's balance abilities before injury, their balance can be measured post-concussion to help determine when their brains have fully healed.

"If you're interviewing someone, if you're just asking them a couple of questions on the sidelines and you're doing some of the neuro-cognitive testing," Dr. Paslow says. "Right now studies show 65 percent sensitivity in terms of identifying the symptoms that we're looking for. Does this person have a concussion of do they not? If we add a balance testing it becomes 92 percent sensitive."

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