Concussion Study
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Credit: Marcin Szczepanski, Michigan Engineering

The focus of concussion research should be on healing the injured brain. Measuring the forces involved in impacts to the head or a helmet have “limited applications” in understanding or diagnosing concussions, according to a new report by the NeuroTrauma Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan and the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences at Virginia Tech. There are many new devices designed to measure impact forces on helmets and skulls, but no technology or biomarker can measure the nature or degree of brain damage caused by concussion.
When the head is struck, helmet or not, the brain can impact the inside of the skull multiple times, and it can twist and recoil. The types of damage include immediate disruption of neural and vascular function, shearing of nerve axons, damage to vessels, edema and swelling, immune and inflammatory reactions, and cellular and metabolic disruption that can continue for months. These include inflammation, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and excitotoxicity that exacerbate neurological damage and worsen clinical outcomes. 
Impact measurements cannot predict the nature or degree of this damage anymore than measuring the amount of force involved when a car runs into a tree can predict the damage experienced by the people in the car.  At least we now have air bags to cushion the impact of bodies against steering wheels, windows and dashboards. There will never be a device that can slow down the impact or twisting of the jelly-like brain inside the rigid skull.  Advances in helmets and protective gear may in fact lead to a false sense of security and harder hits. 
As long as there are contact sports that put the brain at risk of concussions and even severe traumatic brain injury, the focus of research must be on how to heal the injured brain. Current protocols that call for rest and treatment of symptoms such as headache, blurred vision, and cognitive rehabilitation, do not heal brain tissues. At best, they allow some time for the brain to begin to recover as best as it can. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is well established as a safe and effective way to stimulate actual healing, reversing the inflammation and metabolic cascades that cause ongoing damage, reduce swelling, repair blood flow, and drive the recovery of neurological function. HBOT should be considered not only immediately following any concussion, but even months to years later as the long-term consequences of head injury emerge.

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