Does My Brain Say It's Safe to Play Sports Again?


Chris Duszynski

Principal Investigator

Dr. Jeff Dunn


University of Calgary

Grant Type



Traumatic Brain Injury

About the researcher

Chris Duszynski

Graduated from the University of Calgary with a PhD in Neuroscience and a specialization in Medical Imaging

The impact

Sports are an amazing opportunity for kids to improve their physical health, learn teamwork, and develop strong social support networks. Unfortunately, many sports run the risk of kids getting a concussion. Most concussions aren’t that bad. You get hit in the head, feel dizzy, and in a couple weeks all is well again. The consequences of a concussion become a lot more severe if you sustain a second one while recovering from a first concussion. This means that it is critical to know when a child is fully recovered from a concussion and can safely resume playing their sport. Scientists have struggled to develop a good way to diagnose concussions and their recovery, but Branch Out has funded a study that hopes to be a game-changer (literally!).

The study

fNIRS (functional near-infrared spectroscopy) is a brain-scanning technique that’s portable. This makes it ideal to scan the brains of kids who may have sustained a concussion while playing sports. This study will try to improve previous game-side concussion diagnosis by scanning kid’s brains and seeing if their brain activity indicates a concussion or a full recovery from a previous concussion. As you might guess, kids just want to play and could easily lie about how they feel to get back in the game, putting themselves at risk for a repeat-concussion. Since their brain activity can’t lie, this is a huge improvement in keeping kids safe from concussions while still letting them enjoy sports and all of their benefits. 

What's next?

This project aims to develop a non-invasive wearable technology for measuring brain function. If successful, this technology will be commercialized and will provide an objective tool to aid physicians and trained healthcare providers in the diagnosis and management of concussion and traumatic brain injury. 


For their generous contributions to the Branch Out Neurological Foundation, year after year, this research project has been funded by and dedicated to The Flaman Foundation.  

For over 30 years, Frank J. Flaman has personally funded and helped countless charities, both locally and around the globe. In 2005, he formally established the Frank J. Flaman Foundation to expand these philanthropic efforts. In the first two years alone, he brought aid to thousands worldwide and every year following the foundation continues to spread the generosity of Frank and other donors to those in need.

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