Local hospital uses virtual reality to replicate concussion experience

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Jefferson's new technology demonstrates concussion symptoms: Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 4:30pm on November 16, 2017. (WPVI)

Jefferson University Hospital's Comprehensive Concussion Center has launched new technology to take you inside the experience of someone who's had a concussion.

They hope it will lead to more understanding -- and earlier treatment.

The staff at the center works with head injury patients every day.

Now, through its "Recreating the Feeling" campaign, the center is using virtual reality videos to demonstrate what concussions feel like.

"It's a very hard injury to explain. You don't look like you're injured," says Steven Russo, Ph.D., clinical psychologist at the center.

But there are very real symptoms - and not just headaches most people think of.

There's also sluggish thinking, sensitivity to light, or changes in vision.

"Their vision's not quite clear, but it's not quite right, or what it was, have trouble focusing when they go to read. It's out of focus, or they lose their place when they go from line to line," notes Dr. Scott Edmonds, a neuro-optometrist.

Dr. Edmonds says it's no uncommon for sufferers to describe it as an "out of body" feeling.

And not all concussions happen on the field.

Many are caused by everyday falls or job-related accidents. But all should be taken seriously.

And the concussion center hopes the videos, developed in conjunction with LevLane, help.

"The technology's great to demonstrate, and get people in to be evaluated, not just pass this off as being something minor," Dr. Edmonds said hopefully.

The number of reported concussions has doubled in the last 10 years, so there's a growing need for awareness.

You can find the videos on the center's Facebook page, or at "Every Concussion is Different" on the center's website.
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