Sensor Could Help Diagnose Concussions

By Alex Perez
|  Monday, Mar 7, 2011  |  Updated 5:30 PM CDT
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Coaches now have a new tool for monitoring head injuries.

Coaches now have a new tool for monitoring head injuries.

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For 16-year old hockey player Michael Goldifne, blocking every puck means the world to him. Not just because he wants to be a good teammate, but because being on the ice is, in many ways, his therapy.

"I wouldn't be flowing as fast and fighting through this leukemia if I didn't have something to focus on like hockey," Goldfine said.

He was diagnosed with the cancer last July. The leukemia makes it harder for Goldfine to recover from any injury. And with so much of the game focused on being successful, it's hard for his mom Lisa Goldfine not to worry. " These kids are strictly thinking about winning the game, no matter what it takes. "

But Lisa Goldfine is getting some peace of mind, in the form of this tiny sensor called "Shockwave."

It costs $21.95 and goes on the back of a player's helmet.

Stevenson High School hockey coach Tim Johannes came up with the idea for the sensor. It's already spreading to other schools and the NFL and other pro-leagues are looking at the device. It measures the force of an impact.

"When I know this goes off, I'm not gonna put them back on the ice, " Johannes explained while holding one of the sensors.

Before using it, each player first undergoes a special test that measures balance, and other motor skills. That info, along with an athlete's age and weight is recorded and used to calibrate the sensor.

The sensor is usually clear in color, but it turns red after an impact that could be a concussion.

"The device is like an idiot light on your car. It goes off, you don't necessarily know what it means, but then you go to your owner's manual, look through, and you go ok, it went off, these are the signs and symptoms that I have. "

Northwestern Memorial Hospital neurosurgeon Hunt Batjer believes the sensor is no replacement for real-life medical attention. Because it's only in one location, and doesn't go directly on the head itself, Dr. Batjer says relying on it could be tricky.
 
"There are close to 4 million sports related concussions each year. The best thing that we know of that can determine whether somebody has had an injury or not, is a trainer and a team physician, who know their players.

But Dr. Batjer also believes the device could be very helpful for young athletes, who are all extremely susceptible to second impact syndrome.

"When a child has a concussion they are off the field or practice, they're out.".

Thanks to the sensor, Coach Johannes says more of his students better understand what a concussion is, and to him that's half the battle.  
 
"It's not all about winning the game, it's about taking care of the kids."
 

Related Websites: Shockwaveimpact.com; Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Dr. Hunt Batjer.

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