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Health, Science & Tech

UPMC, Pitt Team Up To Study Concussion Screening Tool

New helmets, devices and regulations are coming out increasingly as people learn more about the severity of concussions, and as part of the trend UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh have been working together to study the effectiveness of a new concussion screening tool. 

Anne Mucha, the Concussion Program Clinical Coordinator for Vestibular Therapy at UPMC, says that other tests were not as conclusive, “We just weren’t picking up on some of the key things that were causing our patients to have the most difficulty, mainly problems with their vision and problems with movement, [aka] vestibular problems.”

The Vestibular/Ocular Motor Screening (VOMS) has patients look at an object, and then move the object, eyes or the patient’s head while still focusing on the object. The test only requires a metronome and a tape measure.

“For all of these tests we’re looking at whether these provoke systems of concussions what we find is that people who are concussed often have problems with one or more of these items,” said Mucha.

Symptoms for a concussion can include: headaches, dizziness, fogginess, light and noise sensitivity, nausea, balance problems, sleep problems, memory, attention, and mood problems.

The study looked at 64 patients approximately 5 days after their concussion with 78 healthy control patients. About 60% of the concussed patients experienced symptoms with VOMS.

Mucha says the next step now is to find a way to treat people through the use of VOMS they might be able to target treatments specifically to match symptoms to help patients recover more quickly.

“It’s great to know if a concussion has happened, but I think we’re actually beyond that now in our practice where we’re interested in helping people recover sooner, and be able to document and show when they are recovered and safe to return to more activity, more sport,” said Mucha.