Better brain health at your fingertips

La Trobe University is using innovative technology that tests a person’s brain function through their fingertips to investigate the ongoing impact of concussion.

Renowned La Trobe concussion expert Alan Pearce is leading international research using a computer system called the Brain Gauge to study people with persistent concussion symptoms.

“For most people concussion resolves within a few days,” Associate Professor Pearce said.

“However, one in ten people who are concussed through sport or another head injury will have ongoing symptoms, such as fatigue and headaches. When symptoms continue for at least three months, it’s known as post-concussion syndrome and it can affect a person’s ability to work, exercise and socialise.”

Developed in the United States with funding from the National Football League, the Brain Gauge consists of a device that looks like a computer mouse. It works by vibrating a person’s fingertips to activate regions of their brain while they are completing a series of tests.

“The technology will allow us to measure a person’s central nervous system to see how it differs from someone who has fully recovered from concussion and those with no history of concussion,” Associate Professor Pearce said.

“We want to know why some people take longer than others to recover. This will help develop targeted rehabilitation strategies for people who suffer post-concussion syndrome in the future.”

High jumper Joel Mason, who is a colleague of Dr Pearce at La Trobe, had ongoing concussion symptoms after he slipped and hit his head during training.

“I realised that something wasn’t quite right when I continued to feel tired and couldn’t compete properly for weeks after my injury. I could have saved myself a lot of grief if I’d spoken to Alan earlier and undergone testing,” Mr Mason said.

Associate Professor Pearce has tested many athletes with acute signs of concussion, as well as retired athletes with a history of concussion. In February, he published a landmark study on the long-term effects of concussion on former NRL players.

His current research project is open to people aged 18 to 60 with ongoing concussion symptoms, including retired athletes.

Media Contact Georgia Brown 0456 764 371