CWU Athletics may soon face concussions head on with new technology
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Through the efforts of Chris De Villeneuve, the executive director of the Student Medical and Counseling Clinic, CWU has an opportunity to be on the cutting edge of diagnosing brain injuries at sporting events.
The seriousness of head injuries in sports is just now being brought to light with the movie Concussion with Will Smith and doctors and scientists claiming that sports could have long term effects on the brain.
The movie Concussion is about a doctor (Will Smith) who discovers that the NFL is to blame for players having brain damage called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Doctors and scientists have proved that head injuries lead to negative long-term effects on the brain. The link between football and brain injury is clear considering the Department of Veteran affairs found that 76 of 79 former professional football players had evidence of CTE.
The potential for brain damage reaches further than professional sports. There is an estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million concussions related to sports and recreational activities that occur in the United States each year, according to Brainline.org.
Although there is no way to eliminate concussions in sports, there is a way to diagnose concussions on the spot. Brainscope is a portable and easy-to-use technology that uses electrochemical reactions to detect even the smallest amount of bruising to the brain. The device uses a head-strap containing multiple sensors that connect to a device with similar dimensions to a smartphone.
“It’s an amazing piece of equipment, not only will it give the first objective test for concussions but it’ll save lives,” De Villeneuve said.
The product by Brainscope is called the “Ahead 300” and the cost, according to De Villeneuve, is expected to be around $7,500 per device. CWU is expected to purchase 10 devices, having multiple devices will allow for Brainscope to be available during all organized sporting events and intramurals.
Brainscope’s “Ahead 300” was FDA approved in September 2016 for patient assessments and is being distributed to a select few institutions including health care clinics, military and university and professional sports programs. These are considered by Brainscope to be “thought leaders.”
CWU has the chance to be a “thought leader” regarding how concussions are diagnosed on and off the field, for an overall affordable price. The cost can create a sense of sticker shock, but this investment could save students thousands in the long run considering that the school will not pay for any medical bills for students even if the injury takes place under their program.
When a player is suspected to have suffered a concussion, they will receive a CT Angiography (CT scan) that will take multiple X-rays of the skull and brain.
“In Washington State, the average cost for a CT scan ranges from $1,750 – $4,500. That’s for the scan alone, you would receive an additional (professional) bill from the radiologist, the hospital and the treating physician. Most students have insurance, but you’d still have a copay of $1,000 or more,” De Villeneuve said.
Along with the expensive costs, 90 percent of patients that receive computerized tomography (CT) scans for traumatic brain injuries are CT negative for structural brain damage which exposes patients to unnecessary radiation, according to Brainscope.com.
The “Ahead 300” is a technology that can increase player safety as well as giving the EMS Paramedicine students a chance for hands-on experience with the future of traumatic brain injury assessment.