As an avid mountain biker and clinical neuroscientist, brain performance and concussion are always front of my mind – whether riding on the North Shore or working in our high-tech brain clinic. Peak performance and “flow state” rely on optimized brain health and the ability to focus attention. Crashes are tough to watch, with concussion and more severe brain injuries potentially ending a career, or worse. Perhaps the biggest frustration is the lack of awareness that accessible technologies exist, solutions that enable both peak performance and significantly reduce the risk of brain injury. We’re on a mission to get these solutions out to athletes – optimizing and helping one brain at a time. This is our brain tech story.
It began with our clinic helping a Red Bull athlete in recovery from traumatic brain injury by teaching him how to tap into the power of the brain’s inherent ability to rewire circuits and catalyze recovery. The fancy science word for this is “neuroplasticity.” Neuroplasticity has tremendous potential, which we’ve started to harness for peak performance together with Todd Schumlick, Owner and Director of PerformX Training.
Todd visited HealthTech Connex and was joined by PerformX athletes Richie Rude, Cody Kelley, Kate Lawrence and Seth Sherlock. All four are world-class downhill mountain bike racers, racing under brand umbrellas such as Red Bull, Yeti, FOX, Shimano and Intense Factory Racing. Each of them gained unparalleled insight into brain functions for critical skills like rapid cognitive processing and balance. To benchmark cognitive brain function, the riders were scanned with the NeuroCatch® Platform – a portable and rapid objective measure of electroencephalogram (EEG) technology developed by HealthTech Connex. For balance agility, they were benchmarked using the NeuroCom® SMART Balance Master to analyze the relative sensory input profiles.
So, what did this advanced brain testing do? It provided objective measurement and spotlighted goals to improve performance, giving unprecedented edge advantages for the athletes to access their supercomputer brains on and off the trail. It also helped guide them around concerns and rapid treatment options for concussions from past crashes.
All of the riders now have specific cognitive processing and balance training goals to focus on, which will translate into faster, safer rides, harnessing their inherent neuroplasticity to get them to optimal state. They also all have objective benchmarks should concussion and brain injury become a concern. With these measures in place, it will be possible to utilize treatments and interventions that we know have worked and specifically evaluate each athlete's recovery journey. Working in the field, we have used these very technologies to stay focused and safe at the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. It is so rewarding to watch as they span out through initiatives like PerformX to ensure the same access for all high-risk performance athletes.