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Repairing football brain injuries through technology

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A Southern California company said its brain mapping and training technology can help repair the damage done to the brain by sports like soccer.

Neurologics is working with the NFL Trust and the Tulane University Center for Sport to see how effective its treatment can be. Some beginning soccer patients report improved focus, memory, and attention to detail. They also say that some of the damage they have suffered from exercise is slow to heal.

“Once you realize there is a solution and you realize there is a difference between your location and your location, that’s pretty nice,” said former NFL linebacker Jordan Zumwalt.

Neurologics treatment begins with a brain scan that maps 293 domains in the brain. This sets a foundation for how a patient’s brain works and which areas need improvement.

“We look at the brain under the task at the speed of actual thinking,” said Karen Odell-Barber, founder of Neurologics. “When you think of the brain as a large bundle of wires, we are looking at the brain at the wiring level for diagnostic purposes, for imaging purposes.”

After the scan, the patients go through personalized training units with a coach. The sessions are similar to video games, but Odell-Barber said the training results in “true cognitive repair” and has been shown to improve IQ by an average of 15-18 points.

“It opens up new nerve pathways,” she said. “It can restore that, sometimes not even just the basic function, but a better function than before.”

Treatment started as a way to help people struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. Odell-Barber says that after working with Zumwalt, they realized that it can help with sports injuries as well.

Zumwalt believes this could be a determining factor in football, which has struggled to treat brain injuries, concussions, and CTE.

“Think of it like a muscle,” he says. “If your knee hurts, you get a butt knee or tear an ACL and you need to recover. It’s a similar concept for your brain.”

He and Odell-Barber are working together to teach NFL and soccer players on other levels the benefits of treating neurologics.

“I love football. I love the game. I love everything about it,” said Zumwalt. “My wish is for football to be football and for people to love football and be able to do what you want to do on the field without feeling guilty.”

“I’m not here to say we can’t play football,” said Odell-Barber. “We know these guys are like used cars and they have miles when they arrive. And we want to know how many miles they have when they’re here.”

Treatment costs up to $ 20,000. Odell-Barber said Neurologics is working with insurance companies to find coverage that can cut costs. Zumwalt believes it should be available to athletes at all levels.

“There are people out there who have had head trauma and are not aware of what is going on. Now there is a new solution for them,” he said.