Richmond Football Club partners with UBC researchers for better concussion screening

A youth soccer club in Richmond, B.C., is taking a proactive approach to concussion treatment for its players. This weekend, the young players at the Richmond Football Club got EEG scans for baseline assessments of their brains.

Current concussion screening based primarily on players' self-disclosure, researcher says

Graeme Geib plays with the Richmond Football Club. He's shown here getting an EEG for a baseline assessment of his brain as part of a UBC research project. (CBC)

A youth soccer club in Richmond, B.C., is taking a proactive approach to concussion treatment for its players. 

This weekend, the young players at the Richmond Football Club got EEG scans for baseline assessments of their brains.

If any of the players are suspected to have gotten a concussion, the scans will then be evaluated with new screening technology developed at UBC.

"One of the kids got kicked in the head as a goalie last year," said Clay Windsor, one of the club's coaches. 

"It's a concern here — kids are all running, and fast, and there's some good interaction. It's definitely a fear."

UBC researcher Naznin Virji-Babul said the tests will give researchers more data towards accurately comparing the EEG of a healthy brain to a concussed brain. 

Naznin Virji-Babul is an assistant professor with UBC's physiotherapy department. She's conducting research she hopes will help provide better concussion screening. (CBC)

The goal, she said, is for doctors to diagnose concussions and accurately assess when it's safe to return to the field.

"Right now all we have as a measure of recovery is the child saying the symptoms have gone away," she said.

"By having an objective measure, we'll know a concussion has happened, something has happened to the brain, and eventually we'll be able to determine when it's recovered."

Scientists know that returning to the game too quickly can be dangerous — especially for younger players.

"We used to think the young brain is more malleable and can recover quicker than the adult brain, but it turns out from the data that the younger brains are actually more vulnerable to injury," Virji-Babul said.