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Citadel Football Concussion Testing

Teens help tackle concussions

 
A Halifax medical device company is tackling the issue of adolescent concussions by testing Citadel High School football players.
 
“Adolescent concussion is a problem,” Ying Tam, president and CEO of Mindful Scientific, said in an interview Tuesday.
 
Mindful Scientific has developed proprietary technology — the Halifax Consciousness Scanner — that helps diagnose concussions and other abnormal consciousness conditions by measuring electrical activity in the brain.
 
Tam said the scanner uses electroencephalography technology embedded in a customized headset to measure five consciousness indicators: sensation, attention, perception, language and memory.
 
The technology, which is in the development stage, has focused on measuring consciousness in adult and university athletes.
 
But Tam said recent research from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto has shown that concussions may be a serious and under-reported problem among adolescent athletes, whose brains are still developing, that can lead to lower school grades and substance abuse.
 
Tam said there is a danger that an undiagnosed concussion could result in adolescent athletes returning to play before their brains are ready.
 
“No one knows when to go back because we don’t know when the brain recovers. That’s the dangerous thing.”
 
Mindful Scientific will measure the consciousness levels of 60 Citadel High football players this summer to provide a baseline of their cognitive functions.
 
“Our objective is to test the whole team before the season begins,” Tam said.
 
Players will be assessed immediately if they demonstrate concussion symptoms during games, and the entire team will be assessed again at the end of the season to see if there have been any consciousness changes.
 
Jeff Lawley, Citadel’s co-head coach, said the football team was grateful for the opportunity to take advantage of Mindful Scientific’s technology.
 
“The safety of our players is the number 1 priority of our coaching staff,” he said in an email. “The research and technology that Mindful have to offer is a wonderful tool to aid in the safety of our players.”
 
Mindful Scientific has done clinical studies on concussions in older athletes at Saint Mary’s and Dalhousie universities and in major junior hockey players in Toronto.
 
Earlier this year, Mindful Scientific participated in the Canadian Technology Accelerator in Boston program, a three-month intensive business incubator at the Cambridge Innovation Center.
 
While there, company officials had discussions about Massachusetts school boards that require all children playing on school teams to have concussion assessments.
 
“So, as well as the growing evidence about concussion in adolescents, there is clear and growing concern and action taking place,” Tam said.
 
“Ideally, our new study will drive the development of a device that will provide, for adolescents, an objective assessment of concussion and determining return to play.”
 
Tam said he hopes to have the scanner approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for sale in the United States next year.
 
BRUCE ERSKINE COURT REPORTER
E-Mail: sbruce@herald.ca
Twitter: @CH_courts

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