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.

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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