The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) and the Emirates Health Services (EHS), in partnership with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), shed light on three groundbreaking research for concussion in young athletes. The studies, which are part of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia’s Concussion Minds Matter Program (CHOP's Concussion Minds Matter Program), focus on the diagnostic tools of the future to assess the level of trauma in real-time as the athlete is competing and experiencing an injury.
This came during the participation of the ministry and the EHS at the Arab Health 2021, which takes place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 21 - 24 June, as part of the two entities' ongoing efforts to make a paradigm shift in healthcare services, provide the latest therapeutics, and deliver comprehensive and integrated healthcare service as per global standards.
The studies are built around three main topics, the first is measuring the pupillary light reflex (PLR) function after concussion/injury using a portable hand-held pupillometer that uses a standard white light source and an infrared camera.
The second study is about using unique designed mouthguards to measure forces experienced by youth athletes in the course of routine practice and competition and when sustaining a concussion, while the third study tackled the functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), which is a portable neuroimaging modality that can capture changes in cognitive workload-related cerebral blood flow in real-life situations that is similar to functional MRI. It was found that this may serve as a tool to help determine the extent of injury and recovery and safe return to play.
HE Dr. Youssef Mohamed Al Serkal, Director-General of the Emirates Health Services, stressed the importance of upgrading healthcare services according to best practices, collaborating with healthcare leading institutions to develop specialized care, and continuing the cooperation in building capacities and the training on future skills and technologies. The aim is to move into the actual implementation of the existing and futuristic applied research, which was developed under a sustainable strategy for children's health, he noted.
Al Serkal pointed to the importance of strengthening ties with CHOP to develop surgeries for young athletes using innovative methods and integrated studies. He also mentioned that the cooperation with leading healthcare institutions falls within the implementation of the national strategy to support competitive and innovative healthcare research, build an attractive and supportive academic research environment, and establish national, regional, and international partnerships in children's health field.
"Our partnership with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is a long-standing and robust," said Dr. Kalthoum Al Baloushi, Director of Hospitals Administration, EHS, adding that this partnership is built on utilizing the innovative and digital tools and designing a framework taking children's health services and research to new heights.
Our collaboration with globally renowned medical institutions opens new prospects for better treatment outcomes and is a key to the development of our healthcare services for children, especially for young athletes who may experience an injury while competing and playing, Al Baloushi noted.
Christina L. Master, Executive Director of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said: "We are pleased to be part of Arab Health and to share the Ministry of Health and the Emirates Health Services their pavilion to highlight our efforts in medical education and research in the children's healthcare field."
She added: "Today, properly diagnosing a concussion is a challenge due to a lack of objective diagnostic tests for adolescents. In recent years, researchers at CHOP have studied the body’s visio-vestibular system — the sensory system that processes spatial motion and visual information — to seek objective biomarkers for concussion that can support diagnosis and guide individualized treatment and recovery plans. Athletes all over the world need prompt diagnosis and treatment for full recovery of their concussion and return to their sport in top shape. The aim is to have a handheld device that can be used in sports tournaments to measure cerebral blood flow and detect potential post-concussion syndrome.”