Halifax Concussion Scanner: Can new technology protect our kids?

by John McKiggan

Affordable Scanner Detects Brain Injury

Prominent Dalhousie University neuroscientist, Ryan D’Arcy, hopes to use his portable Halifax Consciousness Scanner to assess concussions and brain injuries at hockey rinks and hospitals.

His state-of-the-art scanner uses brain-wave patterns to detect brain damage. Addressing its applicability to hockey, D’Arcy explains that his device could be used pre-season to determine the normal brain function of the athletes. Then, following a hit, the device could quickly determine if there is any deviation.

A miniaturized version of the scanner is scheduled to be available later this year for under $500. Considering the extravagant expenses of MRI scanners and other such tools, D’Arcy believes that his relatively affordable device could become popular for detecting brain injuries.

Un-cheatable test

As crazy as it may sound to some of us, some professional athletes will deliberately botch their baseline concussion tests at the beginning of a season. This means that, after a blow to the head, the athlete’s cognitive abilities will still fall within the (incorrect) lower baseline range.

The co-inventor of the Halifax Consciousness Scanner, Dr. Donald Weaver, notes that the scanner is cheat-proof. By focussing on the brain-waves and judging the brain’s responses to different sounds, the scanner assesses the change in the athlete’s brain. Dr. Weaver says that you cannot fake your brain’s responses.

Dangers of the game
I’ve written before about the dangers of concussions in sports, and some ways to test for, and hopefully prevent, concussions and repeat concussions. Here’s a link to my recent article Sudden Impact for Lawyers Weekly magazine.

I certainly hope that the Halifax Consciousness Scanner can help future athletes determine quickly whether or not they have suffered a concussion and to what extent. If it proves effective, the scanner will ideally become available for amateur athletes – and hopefully school teams will soon have them available at the sideline/bench. I look forward to reading about advances in this new technology.

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