"In the past there were a lot of concussions and head injuries that just weren't diagnosed period," said Medical Director of Sports Medicine Dr. James Ingram.
He said, a study of professional football players really brought home the need to understand concussions and what can result if left untreated.
"Some people are just kind of out of it you know, they can't tell you what the score is what the play was that was run in the past," said athletic trainer Emmanuel Hernandez.
Hernandez said, the machine helps take the subjectivity out of the diagnosing concussions and makes things more objective. Dr. Ingram said, that hasn't always been the case.
When knowledge of concussions was still small, coaches and players would often make assessments based on how they felt or how many fingers a person was holding up. Ingram said those tests were pretty superficial.
To test balance on the Neuro-Com machine, the person has to do a series of balancing activities with their eyes closed. Hernandez said, when you take sight away, it really forces one to use their natural balance and makes it easier to determine if there is a balancing problem.
After the test is done, the machine will analyze the data and create a bar graph comparing the data to the average person balancing ability. As long as the bars remain in the green, balancing isn't a problem, but if the results end with the bar graph in red, that indicates a balancing concern.
While the Neuro-Com machine is making some great strides in helping test for concussions, the machine can't do all the work.
"They need a physician clearance that they can start the return to play protocol," said Hernandez.
Return to play is five steps:
Practice (no contact)
Full game play (with contact)
Trainers and doctors are now getting better pulling players out of the game rather than continuing to let them play with concussions.
"We're getting better at pulling them out rather than letting them play with a concussion."