For as many concussions that have been detected among student-athletes, many more go undiagnosed.
Either the athlete doesn’t disclose their symptoms, or coaches, trainers or parents don’t see them.
But a solution may be on the way.
Allison Klapperich, a Saydel athletic trainer, needs to ask questions and look for symptoms of head trauma.
“Usually they’re pretty honest with me because their heads (are) hurting pretty bad,” she said.
But sometimes, Klapperich said, athletes want to get back in the game so much they don’t reveal everything.
One professor at Simpson College is hoping to be part of a medical breakthrough when it comes to detecting concussions.
Mike Hadden, an athletic trainer and professor of sports science at Simpson, wants to start clinical trials on an instant concussion test.
It takes a drop of the athlete’s blood. If it detects the proteins that release into the bloodstream after a concussion, it will come back positive within a minute, like a pregnancy or blood sugar test.
“Hopefully within two hours of this concussion, find the protein, take their blood, find the protein, study it and see if it can be a valid and reliable bio-marker for a concussion,” Hadden said.
Simpson has applied for grant money to start testing concussed athletes next year.
“Put some blood on here, then mix it with some fluid that will actually react with the protein,” Hadden said.
The Indianola College is just one of dozens of institutions around the country trying to find a way to make diagnosing concussions more clear-cut and conclusive.
“It’s a race. It’s an arms to race to see who can find the concussion sideline tests,” Hadden said.
“That would kind of take the guesswork out of if they’re not showing symptoms. Do they have a concussion or not? We’re going to see it in the next five minutes,” Klapperich said.