Start-ups and doctors are in zealous pursuit of new and sometimes controversial ways to prevent, detect and treat concussions, as noted in this article.
A growing industry has developed around concussions, with entrepreneurs, academic institutions and doctors scrambling to find ways to detect, prevent and treat head injuries. An estimated 1.7 million Americans are treated every year after suffering concussions from falls, car accidents, sports injuries and other causes.
While the vast majority quickly recover with rest, a small percentage of patients experience lingering effects a year or longer afterward. Along with memory issues, symptoms can include headaches, dizziness and vision and balance problems.
Since 2007 research spending has increased dramatically. At that time Congress, facing criticism that the military had ignored the psychological and physical toll on soldiers of serving in the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, allocated $600 million for research and treatment on traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), two major conditions faced by many returning soldiers. In turn much of the traumatic brain injury research has included a look at treating concussions. Many highly publicized cases in the NFL of concussed football players have added to the call for more research and treatment options.
The search for ways to treat and prevent concussions has spawned screening tools, helmet sensors, electronic mouthpieces, diagnostic blood tests and brain imaging devices. Start-ups are marketing their products to the military, schools, hospitals, sports teams and parents, and controversial therapies like hyperbaric oxygen are being promoted to patients. But as the industry booms, medical experts are raising concerns that it is a business where much of the science is sketchy, belief frequently outruns fact, and claims of technological breakthroughs evaporate soon after they are made. Read more…