The toll that concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) have on battlefields and sports’ fields is raising awareness and stirring up new ideas. TBIs affect more than 1 million Americans annually.
The single greatest challenge with a TBI case is the actual diagnosis. Many of the symptoms – dizziness, nausea, lack of focus – are also caused by other conditions. This makes it difficult for athletic trainers and medics to accurately take the step toward a proper diagnosis and treatment. Even brain-images taken after a concussion may not reveal mild brain damage, especially if there is no earlier image for the doctor to make a comparison with.
To help in that area, a team of doctors and engineers at the University of Pennsylvania has developed a “blast badge.” The patch-like item changes color within a set spectrum, and that color reflects the intensity of an explosion or impact.
The badge is made of color-changing crystals designed to break apart when exposed to shock waves of differing strengths. The innovative badges are lightweight, durable and require no power, yet they are flexible enough to be attached to uniforms and helmets in thin sheets states a source.
At this juncture of development, scientists have demonstrated that the material will react to explosive shock waves. The next thing they will work on is calibrating the color changes to correspond to the potential harm a certain magnitude of blast or impact might cause to the brain, thus showing what kind of medical response would be needed.
Another set of Bronx and Brooklyn researchers are working on the development of a portable radar system that can be used to screen individuals for brain injury. A doctor following the development of the technology says the test used involves asking a patient to walk a few feet while also saying the months of the year in reverse order.
One of the research engineers says, “When a person with a concussion performs cognitive and motor-skill tasks simultaneously, they have a different gait pattern than a healthy individual, and we can identify those anomalies in a person’s walk with radar.”
These scientists plan to collect more data from healthy people of various heights and weights and collect data through tests performed on those already diagnosed with concussions. They will also be working on reducing the size of the radar unit, to make it truly portable and usable by medics on the battlefield and sports doctors in the locker room.
As advances are made in the diagnosis of brain injury, the significant long term effects can be abated. New York Brain Injury Attorneys will keep following the improvements made while taking care of your cases with an unrivaled professionalism.