Concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury, is a major concern in our society. Due to lack of a consistent definition and underreporting, the annual occurrence of MTBI is unknown, however it is estimated that there are 3.8 million concussions each year in the US. Additionally, it is estimated that 85% of last year’s sports-related concussions went undiagnosed. Initial mTBI assessment and return-to-play decisions can be very complicated because of the lack the tools necessary to accurately and objectively assess an individual brain status. Clinicians must rely on indirect measures to inform clinical judgment. Without proper concussion management, people are at risk of inaccurate diagnosis and prematurely returning-to-duty before their brain is fully healed.
The health implications of multiple concussions can be severe. If a second concussion is sustained prior to full recovery, this may increase concussion severity, or even result in Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) – brain swelling that is usually fatal. More alarming is the proven dangers of repeated brain injuries which risk the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a pernicious neurodegenerative disease that has symptoms of dementia, memory loss, aggression and depression. With these serious implications, the need for an accurate concussion assessment tool is crucial.
The Halifax Consciousness Scanner (HCS), currently enrolled in several clinical studies, has the potential to provide accurate and objective information regarding brain function following a concussion. This will have implications in both initial diagnosis of concussion, following course of recovery and return-to-play.