PSU Virtual Reality Concussion Lab

The NFL expects to put independent neurologists on the sidelines next season to help diagnose and treat concussions.

But the organization may also want to add the latest concussion technology developed at Penn State University.
 
Penn State varsity swimmer Chelsea Weedman suits up for a test at the university's Virtual Reality Lab. Lab Research and Service Coordinator Katie Finelli tells her,"for this first one, you're going to be in this room and while you're in the room, the room's actually going to be moving." Chelsea's job: try not to fall over.

Penn State gives baseline tests at the beginning of every season to athletes in high injury sports. The simulations measure balance, memory and other brain functions. PSU Sports Concussion Researcher Dr. Sam Slobounov explains, "we could simulate for example memory, we could put you in a virtual corridor an you could find a path from a to b."

Finelli tells Chelsea what to expect, "the computer's going to lead you through, it's going to take you to a random doorway,  it's going to turn you around, and also show you how to get back to where you started."

An athlete  can then be re- assessed after an injury to see if the trauma has caused problems with memory and balance, as a result of  brain changes.

The Penn State Virtual Realty Program isn't just limited to the lab. A portable unit can be used on the sidelines and the software  can even be used through a television.

All three gave Chelsea the same challenge. "It felt like I was about to tip over. It took a lot of thinking about it to make sure I was standing up straight."

Dr Slobounov says the Department of Defense and the NFL are starting to show interest in Penn State's  Virtual Reality Program, which he believes, is unique.
 

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