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Establishing Confidence in Post-Concussion Return-to-Play


Establishing Confidence in Post-Concussion Return-to-Play

Among the most challenging tasks in neurology today is the ability to definitively identify and accurately treat a concussion. Concussions are complicated. From individual to individual, a concussion’s symptoms, effects and recovery can be wildly different. These facts have historically made a standardized diagnosis and treatment plan for concussive injuries tough to develop. But hope is on the horizon with innovative new technologies that can help us follow a patient through the resolution of a concussion, helping the care team better and more accurately determine when a return to play, work or otherwise active daily life is safe.

When assessing human biology, clinicians often look for things called “biomarkers,” which are measurable substances in the body that may indicate an active disease or illness. In the case of concussion, physicians have historically attempted to determine biomarkers for the condition through the examination of blood and spinal fluid. But neither has been particularly reliable as a concussion marker.

However, a new test called the Brain Network Activation (BNA) is poised to serve as one of the first reliable biomarkers for concussion that has been illusive to the field of neurology up to this point. And we are the only southern California center to be using it with promising results. BNA attempts to establish concussion-related biomarkers not through the study of blood or spinal fluid, but through the examination of brain waves. This innovative technology allows neurologists the ability to actually visualize and measure a brain injury, compare it to other conditions of its type and properly diagnose it. With an accurate concussion diagnosis out of the gates, an effective treatment plan can then be identified and implemented. But perhaps most promising about BNA is the opportunity it presents the physician and the patient to develop a "road map" for understanding when it is safe to return to activity.

Non-invasive and FDA-approved, BNA has the strong potential to help neurologists, patients, parents, coaches and others with a vested interest in the health and well-being of post-concussion athletes by providing a reliable framework for safe and accurate return to play. Recognizing that just one concussion can be life-altering on its own, we also know that multiple brain injuries have the potential to do permanent and sometimes lethal damage. Ensuring patients get the right type and duration of healing they need after a concussion can help minimize those future risks. Click here to learn more about BNA technology, how it works in the clinical setting and what the half-hour procedure entails.