Friday, September 30, 2022


Thinking more about concussions, I wanted to share a little something in the hope that inspires someone…

Some years ago, my dad (the prolific inventor) was reading up on concussions. They were much more prevalent than were being reported, and the CTE effects were greatly impacting players from his generation. 

The NFL and other sports wanted to try and reduce the number and severity of head trauma. Now you could argue that it wasn't so much about player safety as it was about business, but nevertheless they came up with some things they could change, and commissioned some studies. 

The big change came in the idea of concussion protocol. They would have a doctor on hand who could evaluate players and decide if they needed to be held out or could go back in to games. 

The inherent problems were that these doctors were paid by the teams (even when they were "independent") and so might not be as stringent as they otherwise might be.  

Also, they were using a common - but flawed - method for assessments. They did (and still do!) use the sports concussion assessment test, which you can find here: 

It doesn't really take much into consideration, and is just a sort of "hey he looks okay and says he is, so he can keep playing!"

And there's a third factor, that they've defined up a concussion in a legal sense to not really include all manner of neurological issues, and focus just on the head. 

Being a little ahead of his time, my dad started looking at the problem and something he found was that often, the visual acuity of a person with a concussion had changed. Their eyes might not be able to focus, might be subject to quick eye movements, and the like. 

So he had an idea to create an app that assessed their eyes. In theory, you could determine if there was something going on by simply assessing their eye movement, using the camera. 

We talked through this a bit (and even tried writing a little code) and determined the phones at the time weren't sophisticated enough to let you do the assessment. But, we also noted that if you took a baseline before engaging in activities, you might be able to do a comparison. 

And then along came Apples health kit, which started to open up the abilities further. 

Unfortunately, his own state of mind declined, and he wasn't able to pursue it further. 

I see the possibility in it, but while I was happy to work with him, I'm not in a position to take it on myself. 

But … I am happy to share the idea with anyone, so you can pursue it. Certainly, technology should allow someone to use video, audio (maybe there's a change in respiration or the ability to answer questions?), health kit information, and more to do at least a quick field assessment that's better than the scat. 

Or maybe this is something could be used in conjunction with the scat, in order to improve the early detection. 

Or with more research, or engaging a neurologist in a simple design, it could be a more comprehensive solution for concussions and other neurological issues that impact athletes in any sport - at a very low cost. 

I hope someone will be inspired to try and keep a guy like Tua from re-entering a game when he's actually suffering from a concussion - and so he doesn't put himself at risk a few days later. 

Handling of Tua is a sh*tshow

F*ck the NFL and it’s concussion policy