School uses NFL technology to test concussions


Former Tamalpais High School quarterback Alex Ritchie took a big hit that left him with a severe concussion two years ago.

"I was sitting down on the ground on my face, it was the end of the game so I heard the siren going off at the end, and I am just laying there and everything is black I don't see anything," he said.

Ritchie didn't know how bad the brain injury was until he took an "impact baseline brain function test."

"What the data information from this test allows us to do, is that in the unfortunate event that one of these athletes should have a concussion, they would return to our clinic and retake the same test they took today," Dr. Eric Freitag from Mt. Diablo Memory Center said.

The impact test is similar to a memory test. Athletes are evaluated on reaction time to what they see on the screen along with memory and visual recognition. The test is given to athletes once a year before an injury. They are re-tested if they get a concussion.

The test can also show when it is safe for the athlete to return to the field. This is the same pre-injury test the NFL requires its athletes to take each year.

About 2.5 million athletes sustain concussions each year and surprisingly most are female. Soccer, lacrosse and basketball injuries are mainly to blame.

What coaches need to be aware of this time of year is that the same symptoms as a concussion can also be associated with heat exhaustion. Coaches also need to watch for nausea, headaches and dizziness.

Impact testing is giving coaches a better assessment of their team's health.

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