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A new approach to detecting concussion utilizes a laser to deliver infrared (IR) light pulses to the brain, where the light interacts with cytochrome C oxidase (CCO), a mitochondrial enzyme important to brain metabolism. CCO is known to decrease when cells are in distress. Measuring CCO “can tell us if the tissue is healthy and is metabolizing or ‘eating’ properly,” Ioulia Kovelman, associate professor at the University of Michigan, said.

To noninvasively measure changes in CCO as well as blood oxygenation, researchers at the University of Michigan developed the Super-Continuum Infrared Spectroscopy of Cytochrome-C-Oxidase (SCISCCO) system, a device that uses an all-fiber integrated, supercontinuum light source to simultaneously measure both the CCO and the traditional blood oxygenation markers of neural metabolism. Beyond providing real-time information on whether the brain is getting oxygen, the new device can provide information about whether the brain cells are able to use that oxygen. By reliably measuring brain metabolism, the SCISCCO system could potentially result in faster and more certain diagnoses for concussion.

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