Stories about: concussion

Innovation inspiration: From Shakira to Toys ‘R’ Us

A fleet of toddlers get ready to race in their Go Baby Go cars, customized by therapists and parents to provide disabled children with mobility and help them strengthen weak muscles.
Start your engines: A fleet of GoBabyGo cars, customized by therapists and parents to give disabled children mobility and help strengthen weak muscles. (Courtesy Cole Galloway)
TEDMED2014 focused on a powerful theme: unlocking imagination in service of health and medicine. Speaker after speaker shared tales of imagination, inspiration and innovation. Here are a few of our favorites:

$100 plastic car stands in for $25,000 power wheelchair

In the first (and likely only) National Institutes of Health-funded shopping spree at Toys R’ Us, Cole Galloway, director of the Pediatric Mobility Lab at the University of Delaware, and crew stocked up on pint-sized riding toys.

Galloway’s quest was to facilitate independence and mobility among disabled children from the age of six months and older and offer a low-tech solution during the five-year wait in the United States for a $25,000 power pediatric wheelchair.

The hackers jerry-rigged the toys with pool noodles, PVC pipe and switches, reconfiguring them as mobile rehabilitation devices to promote functional skills among kids with special needs.

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Five cool medical innovations we saw last week

Last week, Boston Children’s Hospital’s Innovation Acceleration Program hosted a jam-packed Innovators’ Showcase where teams from around the hospital networked, traded ideas and showed off their projects. Here are a few Vector thinks are worth watching.

isotropic diffusion reveals information on axons on DTI1. An imaging ‘biomarker’ after concussion

Thirty percent of people who suffer a mild traumatic brain injury—a.k.a. concussion—have ongoing symptoms that can last months or years. If patients at risk could be identified, they could receive early interventions such as brain cooling and anti-seizure medications. New MRI protocols that can measure free, non-directional diffusion of water, coupled with sophisticated analytics, are achieving unprecedented pictures of what happens inside the brain after injury.

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The sobering science of repeat concussions

The atrophied brain of chronic traumatic encephalopathy -- the result of cumulative concussions. (Courtesy Ann McKee)

At a May 18 conference on sports concussion and spinal injury, organized by Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, former hockey player Dan LaCouture and former New England Patriots player Ted Johnson told poignant stories of playing through multiple repeat concussions. I realize their cases are pretty extreme, but my overriding feeling as a parent was horror.

The effects of concussion were first medically described in 1928, in “punch drunk” boxers. Neuropathologist Ann McKee, MD, of Boston University and the Veteran’s Administration does brain autopsies for a living, and showed us the atrophied brains of ex-NFL players like John Grimsley and Dave Duerson. Both have abnormal deposits of a protein called tau. That’s the hallmark of a neurodegenerative brain disorder called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

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Mice don’t malinger: The effects of multiple concussions on the brain

On June 6, 2011, the Boston Bruins were playing the Vancouver Canucks in game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals. Bruins forward Nathan Horton had passed the puck to his teammate Milan Lucic when he was blindsided by the Canucks’s Aaron Rome, who buried his left shoulder into Horton’s face. Horton’s head was spun backwards, down towards the ice. The back of his head was the first part of his body to make contact with the ice. He was knocked unconscious. His arms became rigid. His eyes rolled back in his head. He had a convulsion.

Nathan Horton was concussed.

Concussion is all too common in sports, particularly those, like ice hockey, that involve body-to-body collisions. Yet it’s still somewhat of a medical mystery. Until the last 10 to 15 years, few physicians or scientists considered concussion significant enough to warrant scientific investigation. Thus, we know very little about it.

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Treating traumatic brain injury with a nasal spray?

Could an extract from this Chinese club moss have a neuroprotective effect?

Severe traumatic brain injury — such as that associated with military head wounds — is basically untreatable. In addition to cognitive and motor impairments, it leads to epilepsy about 20 to 50 percent of the time; anticonvulsants given after trauma have been tried as a preventative but have not worked. “After head trauma, physicians often watch symptoms evolve, and there’s nothing we can do to prevent them,” says Alexander Rotenberg, a neurologist and neurobiology investigator at Children’s Hospital Boston.

The brain damage begins within seconds of the actual trauma, but a punishing series of biochemical events in the brain unfold over the subsequent days and weeks, making matters worse

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