By Kristin Bien (email@example.com)
7:02 AM EDT, August 28, 2012
SOUTH BEND – As researchers learn more about the effects of concussions, coaches, players and their doctors are being more careful about when they let injured players back on the field. Concussions are considered a minor brain injury but several over time can cause serious problems and increase the risk later in life for dementia and depression. Memorial hospital is using an old machine in a new way – to measure when athletes are ready to get back on the field.
"Fabulous, Sarah! Nice job," says Memorial Physical Therapist, Mary Behrens.
Her patient, 16-year-old Sarah Borger, is still recovering after a nasty head injury nearly 2 years ago.
"I don't even remember the actual hit," says Borger, "I am not sure I even hit my head. But somewhere along there the force of the impact must have jolted by brain enough to give it a concussion."
Borger was eventually referred to Memorial for physical therapy. Part of her recovery included the Computerized Dynamic Posturography -- Nuerocom, for short. A person uses their feet, their vision and their inner ear to balance themselves. This machine measures the brains ability to control those things.
The platform and walls of the machine sway. There are sensors on the floor that measure how well the patient balances. The machine can help doctors determine whether an athlete is ready to head back to practice.
"Now we are testing athletes before the season to get their baseline and then in the event that they do have a concussion, they may or may not have trouble keeping their balance and that gives us an indication of the functioning of their brain at a high level," says Behrens.
The machine, along with other physical therapy over the last several months has been challenging for Borger.
"Will I ever be completely better? That was the big question I had," says Borger.
Based on the latest data gathered from the nuerocom machine, Borger is well on her way.
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