INDIANOLA – There’s always risk whenever athletes take the field for a contact sport. Sometimes, injuries can lead to some difficult decisions: To walk away from the game they love.
On Monday, students at Indianola High School got to see the latest in brain tracking technology. This new test will allow them to monitor the students throughout the year for any concussions or other types of ailments.
“What we’re doing today is monumental in protecting our athletes,” said Brenda Easter, CEO and founder of CTE Hope Foundation.
Dawn Goldener has two young athletes in her home.
“I would always ask people, ‘how do you know if there’s something wrong with your child?’ My seventh grade son is not a complainer, and usually when he comes to us, it’s too late,” said Goldener. “So, how do you know the signs and I did not know any of that.”
This tests look simple , but developers say it’s pretty thorough.
“It’s kind of a whole comprehensive tool on how we can really start to look at concussions really from a scientific perspective,” said Sue Wilson, Chief Research Officer for CTE Hope.
Each player gives a saliva sample. Those are checked for proteins and micro-RNAs. That helps testers see if there’s any abnormalities in the brain.
After that, they’re given a series of balance and cognitive tests.
“It was just really hard, like, especially it was easier when you had your eyes open but when you had your eyes closed, it was harder to find a point and balance,” said Lexie Hastie, a senior at Indianola High School.
Balance scores create a baseline to compare results to throughout the year. Hastie is one of 25 soccer players to complete these new tests. She’s already had one concussion playing soccer, and wants to avoid another.
“It really hurt,” said Hastie.
As for Goldener, she’s on board with the process.
“There would be something that we could go back and compare to, versus the just not knowing. This is much more comfortable,” said Goldener.
“We will prevent the next another athlete from getting CTE because we’ll be able to tell them, you’ll need to stop, your brain needs to heal,” said Easter.
And for one upfront, students will be monitored all year long in three different categories including their stability, their symptoms as well as their cognitive functions.
Several schools are using the saliva tests already: Dowling Catholic, Dallas-Center Grimes, Southeast Polk and Knoxville. In the fall, they’re all looking to incorporate the second phase of testing.