Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Stuff of Dreams: How Sleep Eases Emotional Trauma

Scientists have unlocked one of the great mysteries of the human experience, how we deal with traumatizing experiences that could leave us emotionally crippled. It happens during an "elegant ballet of biology" that softens painful memories, according to psychologist and neurologist Matthew Walker of the University of California, Berkeley, who led the research team.

And here's the amazing part: It all happens while we sleep. Our dreams help us heal.

"When you snooze you win," Walker said during a telephone interview.

Walker's team produced strong evidence that supports an assumption among scientists that a specific phase of sleep, called rapid eye movement, or REM, plays a key role in helping us deal with troubling emotions. Until now, there has been "little to no" evidence that's true, and there was even less understanding of how it works.

But the Berkeley team found that during REM, which is also the time we dream, stress chemicals are suppressed in the "emotional hub" of the brain called the amygdala. The research shows that after a good night's sleep, even potentially traumatizing experiences are softened.

"During REM sleep, memories are being reactivated, put in perspective and connected and integrated, but in a state where stress neurochemicals are beneficially suppressed," Els van der Helm, a doctoral student in psychology at Berkeley, said in releasing the study, published in the journal Current Biology.

About 20 to 25 percent of the time an adult spends sleeping is spent in REM, and scientists have suspected that REM plays a critical role in helping us deal with emotions because patients suffering with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also suffer from sleep disorders, especially involving the REM phase.

"We've heard all our lives that if we are troubled, we should get to bed," Walker said. "We'll feel better tomorrow." But is that right?

The researchers put 35 "healthy young adults" through hours of lab-induced stress to see if there is any evidence that those old bromides are really true.

All of the participants spent two sessions inside a magnetic resonance imager, 12 hours apart. While their brains were being scanned for neurochemical activity, they were shown 150 images ranging from benign, like a friendly cat, to highly emotional, like a snake with fangs, or a burn victim.

The participants were divided into two groups. The members of one group had their first scan early in the day and their second 12 hours later, with no time to sleep between the sessions. The other group had one scan in the evening and the second the next morning, after sleeping in a controlled environment in the university's sleep lab.

As they viewed the images, all the participants "had a short period of time when they could rate the emotional intensity they were feeling in response to that individual image," Walker said. "That allowed us to get a subjective measure of how they themselves were feeling in response to those emotional images."

But the scanner also produced an objective measurement of the emotional reaction. In the first session, the amygdala literally "lit up" because of a strong reactivity by chemicals associated with stress. That was true for both groups.

The second session tells the story. The group that had no sleep experienced even stronger neurochemical reactivity when shown the images than they had during the first session. But the group that had a full night's sleep had relatively mild reactions to the images.

Concussions Might Affect Kids and Adults Differently

A blow to the head might injure a child’s brain differently than it would an adult’s, a new study shows.

On the one hand, that’s good news, researchers say, because the brain damagecaused by concussions appears to be less serious in kids than it is for adults.

But the study also found that the changes in a child’s brain often outlast symptoms like decreased reaction times, memory and concentration problems, irritability,insomnia, and fatigue.

That means coaches and parents might be clearing kids to return to their sports while they’re vulnerable to reinjury.

“Those may be the kids who are at greatest risk for more severe effects of concussion,” says researcher Todd A. Maugans, MD, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Kids who suffer a second sports-related concussion within a month or two of the first could experience a rare but devastating phenomenon called second-impact syndrome, Maugans says. In second-impact syndrome, the brain swells rapidly in response to repeated head injuries. It is sometimes fatal.

“We need to better refine that timetable for recovery,” Maugans says.

Understanding Concussions in Kids

The study, which is published in the journal Pediatrics, used imaging techniques to watch what was happening to the brains of a dozen kids ages 11 to 15 after they experienced sports-related concussions.

Researchers expected to see changes in the kids’ brains similar to what happens when adults are dealt a bad blow to the head. Those changes include damage to nerve cells or chemical abnormalities that suggest decreased brain function.

“We didn’t find that at all,” says Maugans.

Instead, they saw changes in blood flow.

In two of the youngest children, blood flow in the brain increased after a concussion. But in most children, blood flow decreased significantly.

In the case of a 13-year-old wrestler who had the most severe symptoms of the group, blood flow to his brain dropped by 60%.

It’s still unclear how circulation changes happen or even what they mean, but researchers found they can last long after symptoms are gone.

By two weeks, kids in the study who’d had concussions were able to pass a computerized test that measures concussion symptoms. But MRI scans told a different story.

“We found that by two weeks, 63% of the kids were still abnormal,” Maugans says. And after 30 days, a third of the kids still had alterations in blood flow to their brains.

“What that says is that you’ve got a [physical] change, but you’ve got a patient that looks normal,” he tells WebMD.

Experts who were not involved in the study said that while the study raised intriguing questions, it needs to be repeated in a larger group before any firm conclusions can be drawn.

“It’s kind of patchy data in a small group. That being said, those data are interesting,” says Ron Kanner, MD, chairman of the department of neurology at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

“I think it lends further credence to the idea that you shouldn’t send kids back into sports too fast [after a concussion],” he says.

Frequent 'Heading' in Soccer Can Lead to Brain Injury and Cognitive Impairment

Using advanced imaging techniques and cognitive tests, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital and academic medical center for Einstein, have shown that repeatedly heading a soccer ball increases the risk for brain injury and cognitive impairment. The imaging portion of the findings was recently presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in Chicago.

The researchers used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), an advanced MRI-based imaging technique, on 38 amateur soccer players (average age: 30.8 years) who had all played the sport since childhood. They were asked to recall the number of times they headed the ball during the past year. (Heading is when players deliberately hit or field the soccer ball with their head.) Researchers ranked the players based on heading frequency and then compared the brain images of the most frequent headers with those of the remaining players. They found that frequent headers showed brain injury similar to that seen in patients with concussion, also known as mild traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The findings are especially concerning given that soccer is the world's most popular sport with popularity growing in the U.S., especially among children. Of the 18 million Americans who play soccer, 78 percent are under the age of eighteen. Soccer balls are known to travel at speeds as high as 34 miles per hour during recreational play, and more than twice that during professional play.

After confirming the potentially damaging impact of frequent heading, "Our goal was to determine if there is a threshold level for heading frequency that, when surpassed, resulted in detectable brain injury," said lead author Michael Lipton, M.D., Ph.D., associate director of Einstein's Gruss Magnetic Resonance Research Center and medical director of MRI services at Montefiore. Further analysis revealed a threshold level of approximately 1,000 to 1,500 heads per year. Once players in the study exceeded that number, researchers observed significant injury.

"These two studies present compelling evidence that brain injury and cognitive impairment can result from heading a soccer ball with high frequency."

- Michael L. Lipton, M.D., Ph.D."While heading a ball 1,000 or 1,500 times a year may seem high to those who don't participate in the sport, it only amounts to a few times a day for a regular player," observed Dr. Lipton, who is also associate professor of radiology, of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and of the Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience at Einstein.

"Heading a soccer ball is not an impact of a magnitude that will lacerate nerve fibers in the brain," said Dr. Lipton. "But repetitive heading may set off a cascade of responses that can lead to degeneration of brain cells."

Researchers identified five areas, in the frontal lobe (behind the forehead) and in the temporo-occipital region (the bottom-rear areas) of the brain that were affected by frequent heading -- areas that are responsible for attention, memory, executive functioning and higher-order visual functions. In a related study, Dr. Lipton and colleague Molly Zimmerman, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology at Einstein, gave the same 38 amateur soccer players tests designed to assess their neuropsychological function. Players with the highest annual heading frequency performed worse on tests of verbal memory and psychomotor speed (activities that require mind-body coordination, like throwing a ball) relative to their peers.

"These two studies present compelling evidence that brain injury and cognitive impairment can result from heading a soccer ball with high frequency," Dr. Lipton said. "These are findings that should be taken into consideration in planning future research to develop approaches to protect soccer players."

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Breakthrough: Human stem cells successfully transplanted into mouse brains

In research published this week, scientists report that they've successfully transplanted human stem cell-derived neurons into the brains of living mice. That's right, we're talking about a functioning trans-species transplant of brain matter. The researchers took human embryonic stem cells, and grew them in a culture with mouse neurons that had a specific trait — they're activated by light. The stem-cell derived neurons don't normally have this ability, but progressively gained it when grown with the mouse neurons.

The stem-cell neurons were then implanted into a living mouse's hippocampus, where the transplants were able to reciprocally interact with the mouse's neuronal network, and integrate into it. They became part of the network, and functioned normally.

While the whole "transplanting into a mouse" thing is very cool, it's not really why this work is important. The best part is that you can train neurons, and then successfully transplant them into a brain, giving us another avenue to help treat those effected with Parkinsons and Alzheimers diseases, stroke, and epilepsy.

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Health Tip: Help Prevent Epilepsy

Epilepsy may be preventable in some situations, experts say.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mentions these potential opportunities for prevention:

  • Seek prenatal care during pregnancy to reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy and delivery.
  • Get all recommended immunizations to ward off serious infections.
  • Protect against traumatic brain injury. Use bicycle and sports helmets as appropriate, and take steps to reduce the risk of falls.
  • Manage risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol to reduce your chances of stroke

Development of the Brain Network in the Fetus Now Measurable for the First Time in the Womb

A team of researchers at the MedUni's Clinical Department of Neuroradiology and Musculoskeletal Radiology has demonstrated for the first time ever that there are fetal brain developments that can be measured using functional magnetic resonance tomography in the womb. This means, says study leader Veronika Schöpf, that pathological changes to brain development will be detectable earlier than they are currently -- and appropriate measures can be taken in good time.

In the study, 16 fetuses between the 20th and 36th weeks of pregnancy were measured. Measurements were taken of the brain's resting state networks. These networks remain in a state of readiness at rest and their activity increases after appropriate stimulation. The examinations are completely stress-free for the mothers and extend "normal" MRI scans by just a few minutes.

Functional defects are detected earlier "We have been able to demonstrate, for the first time ever, that the resting state networks are formed in utero and that these can be imaged and measured using functional imaging," explains Schöpf, who is part of the working group led by Daniela Prayer, Head of the Department of Neuroradiology and Musculoskeletal Radiology and head of the world's leading centre for pre-natal magnetic resonance imaging at the MedUni Vienna.

This discovery means that, in future, the developmental progress of brain activity in the fetus can be measured and other findings and prognoses made regarding possible malfunctioning processes. As a result, functional defects, such as of the optic nerves or motor system, can be detected while the fetus is still in the womb -- an achievement that was previously impossible -- so that parents can be offered more informed advice and counseling, for example.

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Playing Music Alters the Processing of Multiple Sensory Stimuli in the Brain

Piano practicing fine tunes the brain circuitries that temporally bind signals from our senses.

Over the years pianists develop a particularly acute sense of the temporal correlation between the movements of the piano keys and the sound of the notes played. However, they are no better than non-musicians at assessing the synchronicity of lip movements and speech. This was discovered by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in a comparative study on the simultaneous brain processing of stimuli from different senses by musicians and non-musicians. The researchers also used functional magnetic resonance imaging in their study to map the areas of the brain active during this process. According to their findings, in pianists, the perception of asynchronous music and hand movements triggers increased error signals in a circuit involving the cerebellum, premotor and associative areas of the brain, which is refined by piano practicing. The study shows that our sensorimotor experience influences the way in which the brain temporally links signals from different senses during perception.

In a world full of stimuli which affect all senses, the human brain constantly has to link the impressions we perceive in a way that makes sense. We learn through experience, for example, that the synchronous events that arise in a busy bar setting, such as the lip movements of a particular person and the sound of a certain voice, belong together. HweeLing Lee and research group leader Uta Noppeney from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen study how the brain integrates stimuli from several senses and how the circuits in the brain change as a result of learning. In their latest study, they examined how well 18 amateur pianists were able to perceive the temporal coincidence between finger movements on the piano keys and a piece of piano music and between lip movements and spoken sentences as compared with 19 non-musicians. "For this study, we availed of the fact that the pianists specifically train in an activity, in which several sensory stimuli, that is visual and auditory information, movement and the striking of the piano keys, have to be connected," explains Uta Noppeney.

During the experiment, the finger or mouth movements were advanced or delayed in relation to the sounds heard at intervals of up to 360 milliseconds. The study participants were requested to specify when asked whether the events were synchronous or asynchronous. Using the same film and sound material and the same participants, the experiments were then repeated using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In this case, the subjects remained passive and the machine recorded the areas of the brain that became active during the automatic perception of the synchronous and asynchronous signals.

The experiments revealed that the pianists were significantly more accurate than the non-musicians in assessing whether the finger movements on the piano and the sounds heard coincided temporally or not. "The window for the temporal integration of the stimuli in the pianists is clearly narrower than in non-musicians," says HweeLing Lee. However, the same differences were not observed in the experiments involving spoken sentences and lip movements -- both groups recorded similar performances here. In principle, asynchronicity in language and music activates the same areas in the brain. However, the fMRI scans showed that, in the experiment with the pianists, asynchronous music triggered a stronger signal in a circuit involving the left cerebellum, a premotor and associative region in the cerebral cortex than in the non-musicians.

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Prenatal care 'can prevent epilepsy in children'

Pregnant women who want to reduce their child's chances of developing epilepsy have been advised to seek prenatal care in order to cut the chances of complications during birth.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised would-be mothers to ensure they are taking all of the necessary medication and immunisations to give their baby the best possible chance of being healthy, reports HealthDay.

They were also advised to ensure the child wears protective equipment such as cycle helmets in order to reduce the chances of a serious brain injury if they have an accident while they are out and about.

Figures from the World Health Organization show that as many as 50 million people globally are affected by epilepsy, although it is claimed up to 90 per cent of these are in developing regions of the planet.

In around 70 per cent of cases, people affected by epilepsy are able to control the condition by taking medication.

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It’s Not Your Fault You’re So Sleepy Right Now

Instead, blame your genome. Scientists have discovered a gene that may regulate how much people sleep.

According to ABC, German scientists have found that people with two copies of a gene called ABCC9 slept less than those with one or no copies. ScienceDaily clarifies that the study was conducted "in an undisturbed environment," presumably meaning subjects got to sleep as long as they wanted and weren't awakened by children or cats or the giant metal-eating monsters that come out at 5 AM on the street outside my apartment. Folks with two copies of ABCC9 can presumably get a lot done while the rest of us are either sleeping or blearily fantasizing about inserting caffeine directly into our eyes, but there's a downside: the gene is also linked to diabetes and heart disease. Study author Karla Allebrandt says, "Apparently, the relationships of sleep duration with other conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, can be in part explained by an underlying common molecular mechanism."

Still, Dr. Mark Mahowald of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center implies that the study should make people feel better about their sleep needs: "Our society has equated sleepiness with defects of character, like laziness and depression, but really, some people are generally sleepier during the day. We have to accept the fact that sleep duration is genetically determined and not a sign of a defect." So next time someone accuses you of being a bum because you went back to bed in the middle of the day, just tell them you're probably missing an ABCC9 — and if that person is your mom or dad, you can blame them.

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Are women more at risk for insomnia?

Women have a higher risk than men of developing insomnia at some time in their lives.

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder characterized by the inability to obtain sufficient sleep— typically seven to eight hours for adults, enough to feel refreshed and alert throughout the day—and leads to associated symptoms such as excessive daytime sleepiness. Patients with insomnia dedicate enough time to sleep, but they either cannot fall asleep easily (known as sleep onset insomnia), or they wake up and can’t fall back to sleep easily (sleep maintenance insomnia). Some have both. There is a tendency for insomnia to run in families, although the genetic component is not yet known.

There are two types of insomnia—primary and secondary.

Primary insomnia occurs spontaneously, meaning that nothing in the environment, including medical issues, is to blame.

Secondary insomnia is far more common than the primary variety. Causes include depression, anxiety, chronic pain from conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia, dementia, sleep apneaand restless leg syndrome. Some medicationsand too much alcohol, caffeine or nicotine also can lead to secondary insomnia.

Some causes of secondary insomnia, such as depression and fibromyalgia, are more common in women. Restless leg syndrome is often the result of iron deficiency anemia, which occurs more often in women than men.

Epilepsy Warning: Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 1 Could Cause Seizures

A scene in the latest installment of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 has some doctors worried after the film has reportedly caused several people to have seizures.

According to reports the birthing scene in the movie has caused in-theater seizures known as photosensitive epilepsy. It’s believed that the bright flashing of red and black colors is causing the incidents.

According to experts who spoke with CBS Sacramento:

The red, white and black imagery that flashes quickly during the scene could trigger photosensitive epilepsy. “It’s like a light going off because it hits your brain all at once,” Dr. Michael G. Chez says. “The trouble with theaters is that they’re so dark, the light flashing in there is more like a strobe light.”

Brandon Gephart, a recent seizure victim who was attending the movie with his wife told ABC News that he began “convulsing, snorting, [and] trying to breathe,” while watching the movie last week. Gephart says he doesn’t remember the incident but awoke on the theater floor and was eventually taken to the hospital by paramedics.

Other incidents with similar results have been experienced all over the country, in one case a wife in Utah said her husband:

“Started mumbling and he was blinking on and off with his eyes at that point. I was kneeling in front of him slapping his face.”

That couple says they left the theater and upon returning the next day they heard that the same strange event had happened to another girl in the same movieplex.

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Depression Risk Increased In People With Migraines (And Vice Versa), Study Suggests

People who get migraines are more likely to have depression than people who don't get migraines, according to a new study in the journal Headache.

And the findings also suggest that people with depression have a higher risk of migraine, Reuters reported, though a cause-and-effect relationship can't yet be teased out from the findings.

Regardless, the results show that "something isgoing on here," study researcher Geeta Modgill, who worked at the University of Calgary while conducting the research, told Reuters.

The research involved health data from 15,254 people who participated in the Canadian National Population Health Survey, and who were followed up biennially for 12 years, Medical News Today reported.

Researchers found that the people who suffered from migraines had a 60 percent increased risk of depression, compared with people who don't have migraines, and that people with depression have a 40 percent increased risk of having migraines, compared with people who don't have depression, according to Medical News Today.

The finding comes on the heels of past research suggesting that migraines and depression are genetically linked, TIME reported on a 2010 Neurology study suggesting that people with migraines may be genetically predisposed to have depressive symptoms.

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Functional Brain Pathways Disrupted in Children With ADHD

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), researchers have identified abnormalities in the brains of children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that may serve as a biomarker for the disorder, according to a study presented November 28 at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

ADHD is one of the most common childhood disorders, affecting an estimated five to eight percent of school-aged children. Symptoms, which may continue into adulthood, include inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity behaviors that are out of the normal range for a child's age and development.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there is no single test capable of diagnosing a child with the disorder. As a result, difficult children are often incorrectly labeled with ADHD while other children with the disorder remain undiagnosed.

"Diagnosing ADHD is very difficult because of its wide variety of behavioral symptoms," said lead researcher Xiaobo Li, Ph.D., assistant professor of radiology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. "Establishing a reliable imaging biomarker of ADHD would be a major contribution to the field."

For the study, Dr. Li and colleagues performed fMRI on 18 typically developing children and 18 children diagnosed with ADHD (age range 9 to 15 years). While undergoing fMRI, the children engaged in a test of sustained attention in which they were shown a set of three numbers and then asked whether subsequent groups of numbers matched the original set. For each participant, fMRI produced a brain activation map that revealed which regions of the brain became activated while the child performed the task. The researchers then compared the brain activation maps of the two groups.

Compared to the normal control group, the children with ADHD showed abnormal functional activity in several regions of the brain involved in the processing of visual attention information. The researchers also found that communication among the brain regions within this visual attention-processing pathway was disrupted in the children with ADHD.

"What this tells us is that children with ADHD are using partially different functional brain pathways to process this information, which may be caused by impaired white matter pathways involved in visual attention information processing," Dr. Li said.

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Boys With Regressive Autism, but Not Early Onset Autism, Have Larger Brains Than Age-Matched Healthy Counterparts, Study Finds

In the largest study of brain development in preschoolers with autism to date, UC Davis MIND Institute researchers have found that 3-year-old boys with regressive autism, but not early onset autism, have larger brains than their healthy counterparts.

The study is published online in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition. It was led by Christine Wu Nordahl, a researcher at the UC Davis MIND Institute and an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and David G. Amaral, Beneto Foundation Chair, MIND Institute Research Director and University of California Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

"The finding that boys with regressive autism show a different form of neuropathology than boys with early onset autism is novel," Nordahl said. "Moreover, when we evaluated girls with autism separately from boys, we found that no girls -- regardless of whether they had early onset or regressive autism --had abnormal brain growth."

Brain enlargement has been observed in previous studies of autism. However, prior to this study, little was known about how many and which children with autism have abnormally large brains.

"This adds to the growing evidence that there are multiple biological subtypes of autism, with different neurobiological underpinnings," Amaral said.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder whose symptoms include deficits in language and social interaction and communication. The condition affects 1 in 110 children born today, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is diagnosed more frequently in male children than female children -- at a ratio of 4 to 1.

The current study is one of the first published from data collected by the UC Davis MIND Institute Autism Phenome Project (APP). The project's goal is to recruit and enroll as many very young children as possible in order to collect sufficient biological and behavioral information to characterize different autism subgroups and to explore different neural, immunologic, and genetic signatures of autism.

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Stem cell transplant breakthrough 'may offer hope regarding epilepsy'

A new breakthrough regarding stem cell transplants could offer hope to those who are affected by epilepsy.

The neurological condition is one of the many researchers were hoping their work would shine a light on to, although their breakthrough is originally having an impact for autism and Parkinson's disease.

Jeffery Macklis, of Harvard University, explained the study used complex circuitry as a test case for whether precisely selected and controlled neuron transplants may be able to rewire the brain.

He was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying: "What we found is that these neurons not only turned into the right types of cells, but they sent signals to the recipient’s brain and received signals from the recipient's brain."

Mr Macklis said the next step for the research is to look into parallel areas of the brain, as well as the spiral cord, to link up the findings.

People affected by epilepsy may experience any one of 40 different types of seizures associated with the neurological condition.

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Ottawa entrepreneur’s Shockbox helmet sensor acts to mitigate concussion damage

The Ottawa 67’s have joined forces with a former bomb disposal officer now applying his expertise to the hockey rink to mitigate the damage of concussions.

Danny Crossman, 39, is an Ottawa entrepreneur who served with the British Army in Iraq, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. He’s now chief executive of Impakt Protective, a local startup company that has developed a simple, affordable hockey helmet sensor.

The Shockbox instantly alerts team officials — or parents — when a player suffers a dangerous blow to the head.

The sensor uses Bluetooth wireless technology to send data on the magnitude of a head shot to subscribers’ smart phones.

The data is processed by a web-based application, which issues a colour-coded message: Orange indicates a player’s head has been subjected to the kind of rapid acceleration — a g-force of 90 or more — that often results in a concussion. Yellow indicates a player has taken a hit of 60 to 90 g’s, which raises concern particularly if the player has a history of concussions.

The invention promises to take some of the guesswork out of deciding when to sit a player down for an assessment.

“The key thing is getting people to be checked,” says the British-born Crossman.

“Science has pointed out that there’s no magic number for concussion thresholds, but there is a general range where many seem to occur. So we’ve focused on that: it means if the sensor goes off, you should at least check the kid.”

The Shockbox is already being used by several varsity hockey teams in Ontario, including at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University.

This past week, the Ottawa 67’s had the device glued to the top of some of their practice helmets. The sensor is about the size of a large USB flash drive.

“It’s a step forward,” says 67’s athletic trainer Neil Hoch. “It’s another tool — and you can’t have enough tools when it comes to head injuries,”

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