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Cleveland Clinic studying iPad app to screen for concussions

The Plain Dealer, August 24, 2011

For athletes in high-impact sports like football and soccer, taking a few knocks here and there is an expected part of playing the game. Yet when it comes to head injuries, sports trainers know concussions aren't something to be taken lightly. In the past few decades, the field of sports medicine has developed an array of techniques to assess the severity of brain injuries based on cognitive changes, but it's tricky to objectively measure changes in balance, an indicator of neuromotor functioning. Cleveland Clinic biomedical engineer Jay Alberts is tackling that problem. He's piloting a study to measure the effects of athlete head injuries using an unorthodox screening tool: the iPad 2. This tool could make it easier for schools to gauge changes in injured players' brain functions, with the added benefit of not having to buy expensive medical equipment. The iPad 2 has technology to gauge direction and acceleration built into the device, so trainers will be able to accurately measure the changes pre- and post-injury, said Alberts.