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Diagnosing Concussions: Don’t Do It Yourself

Diagnosing Concussions: Don’t Do It Yourself

Missing or delaying a concussion diagnosis can have far-reaching consequences.

Walter Fielding (Tom Hanks) and Anna Crowley (Shelley Long) learned two important lessons in the movie The Money Pit: If it looks too good to be true, it usually is and don’t try to fix it yourself. A similar warning was issued by the FDA about the dangers of using unapproved medical devices to diagnose and assess concussions.

These unapproved DIY medical devices come as apps that are available on a smartphone or tablet and are popping up all over. They say they measure cognitive changes in concentration and memory and physical changes such as vision, balance and speech.

Don’t fall for it. Missing or delaying a diagnosis of a concussion can have far-reaching consequences, including permanent brain fog, fatigue, dizziness, mood changes and more.

However, there are FDA-approved concussion-assessment devices (we reviewed one recently that uses a virtual reality eye-tracking platform to aid in evaluation of concussion). That’s the kind of technology you should be lobbying for at your schools or medical facilities.

And, if the head trauma is sports-related—whether it happened in a sports program in elementary or high school, or college, intramural or professional sports—you can rely on the CDCs Return to Play protocols (actually they’re laws) that are in place in all 50 states.

When it comes to concussions, you have to use your head! Don’t look for short cuts or quick fixes. If your team has a certified athletic trainer, ask his or her advice. Then head for a doctor’s office or hospital, not your computer.

Medically reviewed in March 2020.

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