KU Leads way in Concussion Technology
He got up off the turf, dazed and confused, and headed back to the huddle for the next play. Daymond Patterson, a former wide receiver at the University of Kansas, played the rest of the drive and the rest of the quarter until halftime, before the team took his helmet because of his concussion.
This was October 2012, when the head injury chaos had just started to overwhelm the game of football, and the scientists studying the impact of these harmful hits.
However, the confusion over all the concussion fuss is taking a major step forward. The University of Kansas is now using technology that will better help doctors determine if student-athletes do have concussions.
“I got undercut on a pass and came down, smashing the back of my head against the turf,” Patterson said, explaining the hit against Kansas State on a frigid day in Manhattan’s Bill Snyder Stadium. “I got up pretty quickly and felt pretty good. It took a while for me to feel any side effects.”
The technology, which stems from research done for Parkinson’s Disease, will condense all the required information into a simple app on the iPad2 to help doctors quickly identify what is wrong.
The new software, termed C3 Logix, holds all the information in one spot. Now, doctors don’t need to sort through files to find an athlete’s balance test scores or their reactionary test scores.
The iPad2, with the new C3 Logix testing, stores the concussion baseline testing information making it easy to recall where the player tested originally compared to after a hit to the head.
“The iPad and the software does help to keep everything closeby and easy to access,” said Murphy Grant, the head athletic trainer for the KU football team. “It makes our life fairly easy and keeps all the information in a safe and secure spot. It’s a lot better than the folders of paperwork I would have to have on hand for every single player.”
With the scores being available on tablets that are easily transported, a concussion test can now more easily be performed on the sidelines to tell how severely a player is impacted.
It’s reported that 300,000 head injuries happen in one year in the United States. Having new technology like this will help better diagnose the symptoms and more quickly get an athlete back on the playing field.
The baseline tests that will be stored on the new software are now being performed on kids starting at age 10. They range from $5 to $50 each. In Kansas, ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is used for testing and usually cost $10.
“The volleyball team, and the entire athletic department, uses ImPACT for our athletes,” said Aimee Miyazawa, head athletic trainer for the KU women’s volleyball team. “In my eyes that is the most basic, but in-depth baseline test I’ve seen for pre-concussion testing. I can now use that test very smoothly to better detect our athlete’s injuries.”
The volleyball team has not yet worked with C3 Logix, but Miyazawa said she would be interested in incorporating it.
So far, only the football and women’s soccer programs have worked with the new technology on its athletes.
“I can see this becoming very popular and possibly being used across the athletic department at this time next year,” Grant said. “I think it is awesome and I don’t really want to go back to anything else.”
While there is still uncertainty at times whether someone has a head injury, but this new technology will help a trained medical staff make better determinations on the student-athletes.
Both Grant and Miyazawa said that a player could tank on the baseline testing to give themselves a better chance to play later with some concussion symptoms but neither thought that was an issue with KU players.
“I never thought I was playing with a concussion or was avoiding the training staff,” Patterson said. “I felt fine to play when it happened except for the little pain that comes from regular football plays. It wasn’t until I sat down at halftime and the hype wore off, but the headache set in.”
Grant is unable to comment on specific players or incidents, but he did acknowledge that there are some players that think they can play through injuries.
“I regularly see the athlete that wants to work through pain and keep pushing, especially in football, it’s what is instilled in these young athletes,” he said. “But it’s usually those minor concussions, which guys don’t acknowledge right away, that turn into the long-lasting concussions. We hope, with this technology, that we can better test the athlete, and do it quicker, so that we can pinpoint the magnitude of the head injury, and prevent the long-term injury.”