Week 3 Hog Blog: Back to the Future

“You know what this means? It means this damn thing doesn’t work at all.”

That was a frustrated Dr. Emmett Brown venting over his unsuccessful efforts to read the mind of Marty McFly. Little did Doc Brown know that his homemade “Brainwave Reader”, while a failure in 1955, would go on to inspire the invention of the tools needed to help save the sport of football in 2018.

“There’s so much more we don’t about concussions than what we do know about concussions,” Dr. David Chao told KUSI viewers. “Right now it’s like pre-MRI days, when every knee injury was called a sprain. Today, whether you get knocked out cold or just see stars for three seconds, both are called concussions. But they’re clearly not the same thing”.

That’s why the entire Lincoln High football team is participating in a pilot program called “Protect the Brain Campaign.” In conjunction with the Ronnie Lott Foundation, this week, each Hornet football player underwent a 15 minute Electroencephalogram (EEG) test. While not a CTE scan, this FDA approved test helps establish a brainwave baseline which in turn, can help a medical or training staff determine when it’s safe for an athlete to return to action.

Former Oakland Raider and current Hornet head coach David Dunn sharing his personal concerns – “I’m going through some testing myself. So we just want to get a baseline on my kids to better establish our return to play protocol.” Besides being a head coach, Dunn is also a father of young football player. “As a parent, I would love to have a ‘before’ picture to compare with a post-concussion image.”

Each test costs between $85 to a $100 per athlete – money well spent when you consider the long range implications of not properly diagnosing or treating a concussion.

“What we want to do is to bring an objective measurement and to add to the current protocol that physicians are using in the return to play decision,” says Baslyne Brain Scan Technology President Jeff Wadstrom. “It’s important to make certain injured athletes brains are back to the baseline and fully healed before they return to play. You can’t use a one size fits all template because everybody’s brain is different.”

With football participation numbers in steady decline, and the “sport is too dangerous” wave still building, schools must take a proactive approach responding to safety concerns. Baseline testing is another step in the right direction. For their part, the athletes are all in. “This (motor skills test) is going to be something that everybody is going to try and score high on. We just what to see where we are as a team,” says Hornet wide receiver Don Chapman.

If Doc Brown could only visit 2018, he’d likely exclaim…again…“I finally invented something that works.”

Categories: The Hog Blog