With the help of artificial intelligence, UBC researchers have demonstrated that concussed brains create ‘neural detours,’ re-routing information along alternative pathways.

“It was a freak accident, and at first it didn’t seem like a big deal.

UBC student Rori Wood was practicing with her teammates on the Thunderbirds women’s rugby team. During non-contact drills, another player caught her in the eye with an elbow.

‘I was like, oh, that hurt. My eye was throbbing, and there was a cut, but I wasn’t too worried about it because it didn’t feel like that big of a hit,’ she remembers.

As one of the team’s veteran forwards, Rori was used to the scrums and tackles that come with the position. Her main concern was getting the eye cleaned up and making sure it didn’t swell too much before the next day’s match.

But a few hours later her head began to hurt — really hurt — and she felt sick to her stomach. There was a feeling of sensory overload: “When my parents picked me up to go to the doctor, everything was so, so bright. Like, a literal fog. And sound just hurt. I wore earmuffs to the appointment.”

More on Unlocking the mysteries of concussion and the brain: New UBC research could make diagnosis, treatment and prevention more effective for everyone — especially women via UBC Medicine.

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