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Head Games and neuropsychological assessments

You may have seen this insighful OpEd last Friday in the New York Times, by clinical neuropsychologist Gerald Tramontano:

Head Games

– “CHILDREN aged 5 to 18 suffer at least 96,000 sports-related concussions every year in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. Even more troubling, as many as 20 percent of all high school football players sustain concussions annually, studies show.”

– “The only way to know for sure whether a concussion victim’s brain has returned to normal is to compare the results of neuropsychological tests conducted before and after the injury. That requires preparing athletes for the season by putting them through baseline testing.”

Comment: Great OpEd, raising awareness of a problem with growing importance – not only in terms of sports concussions, but also car accidents, strokes, and a variety of life-events that may provoke brain damage – and introducing readers to the need for cognitive baselines for specific individuals.

Now, we will probably need to go further than the author of the OpEd suggests. There are simply not enough neuropsychologists in the whole planet to test one-person at a time for 4-hours each, and the cost of trying so would be astronomical.

The more realistic route is to combine a) fully-automated computer-based assessments as a baseline, b) the involvement of a neuropsychologist when needed, probably both to supervise the whole assessment program for a sports team, for example, and then to supervise the post-damage rehabilitation process.

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