Anthony Silver, founder and executive director of Gray Matters, knows a bit about concussions. Rear-ended by a texting driver, his daughter suffered both a concussion and post-concussion syndrome. She could no longer concentrate on her schoolwork and was forced to drop out of school for a semester.
Fortunately, he had recorded a baseline of his daughter’s brain activity before her accident. He was able to discern the seriousness of the injury and follow her progress until full recovery.
Brain trauma, not visible to the eye, is a tricky thing to address. According to Jason Bouton, sports medicine expert at Gray Matters, “Concussions are the only thing where there’s a question mark. It’s not as obvious as an ankle sprain which is why there are so many questions about it.”
Because concussions aren’t visible, kids may get the go-ahead to hit the gyms and fields before they’re fully recovered. In being active too early, they run the risk of “second impact syndrome” (which is almost always fatal) or, far more likely, is “overlapping concussions”; receiving a second injury before the first is fully healed. Kids who suffer from overlapping concussions have a significant worsening of symptoms, sometimes from relatively minor impacts, and longer, more difficult recoveries.
The unreliability of cumbersome conventional baseline testing created a need for a better method. This opened the door for qEEG, a technology used by NYU, NFL, the US Military, and Gray Matters. In fact, Anthony has spent a dozen years studying the use of qEEG brain maps in tracking and treating concussions.
He and Jason recorded brain maps of 50 high school athletes at the beginning of a school term. Of these 50, four suffered from concussions during the season. Because of the baseline recordings, they were able to effectively track the injuries and ensure full recovery before the kids returned to the games.
Now joined by Dr David Wang, head team doctor at Quinnipiac University, the team at Gray Matters is recording brain activity baselines for Quinnipiac athletes, and are hoping to do the same for kids in Fairfield County.
Anthony describes qEEG as the “digitized measurement of the brain activity, measured at the scalp surface”. The ability to measure actual brain activity quickly, using non-invasive and highly portable technology, explains its increasing popularity.
It wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that qEEG saves lives or, at least, quality of lives.
Consider these statistics:
- At least 9% of all high school athletes will get a concussion within any given year.
- Those playing football, ice hockey, and soccer are most at risk.
- After car crashes, sports are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury in individuals aged 15-24 years.
- Girls are twice as likely as boys to get a concussion.
Gray Matters will record baselines for schools and teams at no cost, for groups of at least 50 students. They would charge a nominal fee for holding these recordings, which pays for the cost of testing and treatment should your child suffer from brain injury.
Anthony explains, “I believe this is the only way to protect our kids and make informed decisions if they’re injured. It’s a technology being adopted very quickly, and we have the experience and expertise to bring it to our community.”
If you’re interested, call your friends. Rally your teams. Alert your neighborhood. Organize a group of kids for a free baseline brain map which could save you a lot of headaches in the long run. Literally.