Thursday, January 18, 2007
Medical Reports: Diagnosing Danger
If you've been watching football this season you've probably seen the players get hit over and over again. Concussions often go undiagnosed and players stay in the game, putting themselves at risk for traumatic brain injuries. But, as 7's Richard Lemus shows us, there's a new test that's Diagnosing Danger.
WSVN -- They're rough and tough on the field -- from football to soccer, athletes often take hard hits.
Megan Capozzi: "I was really off-balance, but I could feel where I got hit pretty bad."
Soccer goalie Megan Capozzi recently took a blow to the head that left her stumbling.
She kept playing but, by the next day, she knew something was wrong.
Megan Capozzi: "I could not focus on anything. I just stared off a lot, and I felt really light-headed."
Megan didn't realize she had a concussion -- something that often goes undiagnosed on the field because the symptoms aren't always obvious.
Statistics show one in every 10 high school athletes will have a concussion.
But most will shrug off the symptoms and get right back in the game.
Dr. Mark Lovell: "When they go back too soon, we can see very negative effects on brain function if they are hit again.
"The effects of each ensuing concussion can be more and more damaging."
University of Pittsburgh doctor Mark Lovell recently developed this computer test, called IMPACT, designed to diagnose a concussion.
At the start of the season, each athlete is given the test to establish a normal record of his or her cognitive function -- memory, reaction time and visual processing speed.
If they're ever injured the athlete is re-tested, and the results are compared to their original readings.
Players can't return to the game unless their post and pre-injury results are the same.
Dr. Mark Lovell: "The IMPACT test really gives the athlete a way of protecting themselves from further injury."
Once Megan took the test it confirmed she had a concussion.
She'll now sit out for at least two weeks, so she can fully recover and score big when she's back in the game.
Richard Lemus: "About 1,500 sports teams are now using this test, including several local and state college and high school teams. The computer test costs about $300 to $400 a year -- about the same as a few football helmets."
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