HCMC working on advances in measuring concussions
MINNEAPOLIS – As Teddy Bridgewater slid at the end of a scramble, first Rams defensive back Lamarcus Joyner elbowed Teddy’s head, then Teddy’s head hit the turf.
“It looks to me like he got hit in the head twice. And that can cause the head to go forward and then backward,” said Dr. Uzma Samadani in the Neurosurgery Division of Hennepin County Medical Center.
Samadani says the play looks like a classic injury causing concussion. But she says you can’t speculate how long, if at all, it will sideline Bridgewater.
“No two brain injuries are the same. And no two people are the same in terms of resilience and how quickly they recover,” said Samadani, the top brain injury researcher at Hennepin County Medical Center.
At HCMC, Dr. Samadani and her colleagues are studying the eye tracking of people with brain injuries such as concussion.
“When someone has a brain injury, and they’re watching that same point, their eye movements aren’t as coordinated. And you can measure the differences and tell how severe the brain injury is, and you can tell where in the brain the injury has occurred,” Samadani said.
Samadani says that research will hopefully help doctors better measure a concussion. And know when athletes with concussions can safely return to play.
“We’re trying to figure out which cells are damaged and how badly they’re damaged. And our hope is by solving these problems, we can better predict who’s going to come back and who’s going to have lasting damage,” Samadani said.
But Samandani points out, most people suffering concussions are not football players.
“Actually the most common causes of brain injury in this area of the country are motor vehicle accidents and falls in the elderly,” Samadani said.
She hopes discussions like these following high-profile concussions raise awareness — so more people seek treatment when they feel concussion symptoms.