Researchers developing pitch-side concussion detector

11 Sep 2014

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Researchers in the UK are attempting to obtain a better understanding of sports-related concussions by developing a detector that could be administered to an injured player beside the pitch.

The treatment of concussion in sport has become a hot topic in recent years, as one that is little understood. The seriousness of concussions have also been ignored, with the long-term effects being serious, if not deadly.

Now, RTÉ News reports that 40 students in the UK are trialling a breathalyser that analyses the chemical compound of their breath to see if they have suffered a concussion. The device would reportedly be more accurate than the current psychological pitch-side test being trialled by the International Rugby Board.

According to one of the researchers on the UK project, Prof Tony Belli from the University of Birmingham, the breathalyser would be a cheap and scientifically accurate way of measuring the chemicals in blood urine and breath following a concussion.

Belli said that while the breathalyser test would take longer (about five or 10 minutes) than the current psychological testing, it will be far more reliable.

The UK team is also looking to examine the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation to detect signs of a concussion. The technique uses a magnetic field to stimulate electrical activity in the brain which can be translated to muscle movements, RTÉ reported. Research has suggested that in people with a concussion, this connection is impaired.

Players on pitch image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

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