Recently, a problem that has plagued many athletes, in a multitude of sports, is the issue of concussions. A concussion is a traumatic blow to the head that can cause temporary impairment of neurological function. Whether playing a contact sport like football or lacrosse, where the risk of concussions comes with the territory, or a non contact sport such as track or baseball, many Matadors have experienced the pain of a concussion such as senior Mica Zimmerman.
“I got a concussion freshman year when our lacrosse captain Alex Seclow accidently hit me in the head with a pass,” Mica Zimmerman ‘14 said. “The process of recovering really took awhile. I didn’t go to school for awhile because I couldn’t concentrate during class and was overall just in a lot of pain.”
But in a stunning new study done on 46 different college athletes both in New York and in Munich, Germany, scientists have been able to come up with a new way to diagnose concussions not by the usual methods of testing response time, balance, and memory, but by doing a simple blood test for the brain protein S100B.
For a while an obstacle presented to the researchers was that, for reasons yet unknown, when someone physically exerts themselves they have an increase of S100B in their blood stream by about 2%. But when the 46 athletes were baselined for S100B levels during the preseason, and again when 22 of them suffered concussions researchers found a spike of almost 81% in their S100B. This is well above the 2% caused by exertion, so there is a definitive difference between the two.
“There were many times where John the trainer or my coaches would take me out of the game because they suspected I had a concussion. Sometimes they were right but other times it turned out to be nothing. It was really frustrating,” Grant Miller ‘15 said. “A new and more exact way to test for concussions would be amazing in my opinion.”
This finding is bordering on revolutionary for the field of sports medicine and for athletes everywhere. Before trainers had to rely on certain symptoms to determine if an athlete had a concussion, and often times these symptoms and tests were inaccurate, making it tough for coaches and trainers to decide who was okay to go back in and who needed to sit out. But now, with just a prick of the finger trainers can determine whether or not athletes like Miller and Zimmerman have suffered a concussion, leaving no doubt as to whether or not they should continue playing. Hopefully this is an innovation athletes at Miramonte will see more of in the near future.