Researchers in Texas have discovered a new technology that could use brain waves to detect the severity of a concussion and compare injuries in a standardized way. Known as magnetoencephalography (MEG), this technology may offer a way for doctors to evaluate and quantify the seriousness of concussions by measuring brain waves, potentially indicating the healing progress of a concussion.
Primarily employed in planning epilepsy surgeries, MEG scans the brain for various frequencies of waves, including delta waves with a frequency of one to four hertz. Typically, a person's brain frequency falls within the range of 13 to 30 hertz, known as beta waves. Researchers observed that individuals with concussions exhibited unusual delta waves, leading them to consider MEG as a new avenue for concussion detection.
Currently, doctors use brain scanners like electroencephalogram (EEG) to record neuron activity. However, EEG cannot detect weak electromagnetic signals deep within the brain, whereas MEG can receive signals from any part of the brain's folds and grooves. The resulting MEG images provide significantly more detailed data on brain activity compared to EEG, offering more accurate insights into a patient's condition
While saliva tests and helmet sensors are also being explored for concussion diagnosis, MEG stands out for its thorough examination of brain activities. Despite its effectiveness, MEG encounters challenges when scanning the brains of teenagers. Teen brains exhibit delta waves even while awake, making it challenging to distinguish between normal brain development and concussion-related changes. To establish a standardized concussion rating, additional brain scans, particularly in teens, would be necessary. However, the limited availability of MEG scanners, with only 40 in U.S. clinics, poses a logistical challenge.
MEG proves highly beneficial for identifying concussions, especially in adult athletes. Given that studies indicate a significant number of college athletes conceal concussion symptoms, MEG can play a crucial role in determining an athlete's recovery status and readiness to return to sports, providing valuable insights into their well-being.
[Source: Science News Explore]