New scanning technology could track brain wellness in athletes

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Imagine a day when scanning your brain is a normal part of seeing your doctor for a physical. That day may not be far off.

A new piece of equipment is not only for concussion management but it’s also for overall brain wellness.

The test only takes a matter of minutes but the information about the brain it can unlock is changing lives.

“It’s a great objective tool that gives us good information on the brain, not only with concussion and brain injury, but we can also look at brain performance on the other end of the spectrum,” said Chris Wolfinger from Results Physical Therapy and Training Center.

It’s called a WAVi scan and it gathers real-time information about the brain’s performance by testing a person’s reaction time to both audio and images.

“This is one of the only ways we can actually take a look at how your brain is processing information and providing output after that,” Wolfinger said.

Results Physical Therapy in Sacramento is one of just a handful of places in the state using the new technology.

They’re encouraging as many people as they can to scan their brains in order to create a baseline result going forward.

“Just one scan doesn’t give us a whole lot of information,” Wolfinger said. “We need to have that baseline scan. Ideally when the person hasn’t had any brain injury recently to give us an outline on how their brain is working.”

UFC fighter Benito Lopez said the technology is eye-opening.

Lopez and his Team Alpha Male partners chose to get their brains scanned because of the risks that come with their profession and to understand how to best take care of their brains as they get older.

“Fighters don’t think about that enough, you know. We’re always living in the moment, chasing the fights and doing everything we can,” Lopez said. “But I’m definitely wary about it and nervous. That’s why I am in here getting my brain scanned and doing everything I can to keep my brain healthy and strong.”

Wolfinger said there are also lifestyle changes people can make.

“There are direct correlations with how well you sleep, how well your nutrition is, how active you’re being. We can kind of mix around all those different factors and get the person’s brain functioning as efficiently and as well as we can,” Wolfinger said.

Getting a WAVi scan done as young as possible is suggested, especially for those in youth sports. That way if a concussion does occur down the road, the concussion can be compared to a baseline scan.

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