Brain Injury Researchers Study YouTube Videos

Brain injury researchers at the University of Kentucky have been watching thousands of YouTube videos − but they’re not just wasting time at work. The researchers spent hundreds of hours viewing videos of people receiving head injuries during sporting events and recreational activities, reports University of Kentucky News.

Jonathan Lifshitz of the UK Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center led the team as they looked for visible, involuntary responses to head trauma. They hope that their research will help coaches and trainers make more educated decisions about allowing athletes to continuing in competition after a blow to the head.

“As basic scientists, we all hope that our research we do in the laboratory translates into the clinics. In this case, we hop it translates onto the sidelines.

The team was looking for the “fencing response” − a forearm posturing that resembles the en garde position in competitive fencing − which indicates damage to blood vessels and neural tissue in a critical brainstem region that controls balance. The posture may also look like a boxing pose.

The research team watched approximately 2,000 “knock-out” videos on YouTube and found 36 videos that portrayed moderate or severe blows to the head, where the person receiving the blow did not immediately get up. Out of these videos, two-thirds of the injured people exhibited the fencing response. The fencing response was most common in mixed martial arts competitions and football games. The findings of the study were published in the August 18 issue of the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

"The fencing response frequently takes place before the player even hits the ground," Lifshitz explained.

One video studied by the team included a head-on collision between Willis McGahee of the Baltimore Ravens and Ryan Clark of the Pittsburgh Steelers during a playoff game. In the video, McGahee shows the fencing response after the hit.

Moderate to severe trauma to the head can cause permanent brain damage or even death if not treated quickly. Unfortunately, it sports like martial arts and football, head trauma is not always immediately apparent. This research will help in efforts to teach trainers, coaches, and medical staff how to spot brain injuries during competitions.

“The observation of the fencing response can help coaches and trainers make immediate and future return-to-play decisions," Lifshitz said.

But Lifshitz cautions, “The response is not always universal. The absence of a fencing response should not be taken as a sign that no injury has occurred.”

Other signs of a traumatic brain injury may include loss of consciousness, a bump on the head, confusion or loss of memory, changes in behavior or personality, stiff neck, slurred speech, visual impairments, and changes in the size of the pupils.

Contact sports and automobile crashes are the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries. If you witness head trauma or suspected brain injury, call 911 and tell the victim of the injury not to move. Do not move the person, and if he or she is wearing a helmet, do not attempt to remove the helmet; let the healthcare professionals handle that. In most cases, doctors will perform neurological exams and order imaging tests such as MRI and CT scans to check for brain damage. However, not all brain injuries will show up on imaging tests.

If you or someone you know needs a Georgia brain injury attorney for representation in a personal injury case, contact MLN Law. Call 404-531-9700 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced brain injury attorney.