VR Tech Helps Identify Sporting Head Injuries

VR Tech Helps Identify Sporting Head Injuries
March 20, 2017

New virtual reality technology could help detect sporting head injuries and ensure players get immediate care.


It is hoped the Oculus Rift device will help doctors detect concussion from the sidelines within seconds.


Medics would be able to make quick assessments and prevent players from returning to the pitch if they are affected.


The futuristic headset can detect if a player has concussion by testing their ability to balance at the same time as following instructions.


A team from the BBC have had exclusive access to new technology and went to West Bromwich Albion FC to try it out.


The former WBA star Jeff Astle died from dementia 15 years ago and a coroner ruled his death was caused by brain trauma, brought on by heading heavy leather footballs.


Dr Michael Grey – who has been trialling the device at the University of Birmingham and East Anglia - said: “You will have players who say, ‘No I’m fine, I want to go on. But you do this test - or one like it – I think those questions go away.”

Dr Michael Grey


Former Aston Villa, Wolves and West Brom striker Andy Gray has backed the technology.


He told the BBC: “What football has no excuse about is embracing modern technology. It has no excuse. It can’t say we don’t have the money, it’s awash with money. Paying millions and millions of pounds to footballers and then worrying very little about their health.”


The new technology trial follows a medical study into heading footballs and the links to developing dementia.


It is being carried out by a group including neurosurgeon Antonio Belli, who sits on the Football Association’s independent panel into concussion.


Several of England’s 1966 World Cup winning team now have dementia.


Nobby Stiles, 74, Martin Peters, 73, and 82-year-old Ray Wilson were diagnosed with the disease while Jack Charlton, 81, suffers from memory loss.


Former West Brom striker Jeff Astle died of chronic traumatic encephalopathy aged just 59 in 2002. It later emerged he had the brain of an 89-year-old at the time of death.


World Cup star George Cohen, 77, has called for heading to be banned in the under-10 game, after a report by University College London and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery found CTE - linked to Alzheimer’s - in the brains of dead footballers.


And researcher Dr Helen Ling has called for a “brain bank” of ex-players so scientists can study the connection further.


Jeff Astle’s wife Laraine and her family have been campaigning for more research into the link between football and dementia.


Laraine said: “We’ve been very patient, very polite. We’ve waited all these years. They’ve let us down. They’ve let Jeff down and they’ve let football down.”

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