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New Tool Used to Diagnose Concussions

Jan 9, 2015
Originally published on January 8, 2015 9:04 am

According to a report from the NCAA, a little more than seven percent of injuries in college football are concussions. 

The term concussion started to gain steam in the American vernacular a few years ago. Former high-profile players had committed suicide and some wanted to link the player's deaths to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The death of former Pittsburgh Steelers player Mike Webster is seen as the incident that launched the CTE debate.

One of the challenges to diagnosing concussions is the fact there are a lot of myths lingering. One of them is the fact that a concussion doesn't always mean "getting knocked out."

A group of researchers thinks they may have a new tool to help diagnose concussions without having to take a player to the hospital. It's called the I-Portal, which could be on the field at University of Miami Hurricane games by next year.

An NFL grant supported the cost of developing the device. Three schools were chosen to collaborate on the project. They include Dr. Michael Hoffer from the UM Miller School of Medicine, Dr. Carey Balaban at the University of Pittsburgh and Dr. Robert Cantu at the CTE Center at Boston University School of Medicine.

Dr. Hoffer, formerly a physician in the Navy, says this device could be used on more than just professional and college sidelines. A smaller device with lower overhead could mean wider use on many levels, even on the battlefield. The Washington Post says that more than 300,000 soldiers have suffered a traumatic brain injury in the last decade.

Luis Hernandez is a reporter with WLRN in Miami. WLRN is a partner with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.