Vancouver Island High School Aims to Disrupt Medical Science by Leading High-Impact Concussion Brain Research

Vancouver Island High School Aims to Disrupt Medical Science by Leading High-Impact Concussion Brain Research

The Brentwood Research Applied Innovation in Neuroscience (BRAIN) team has launched an unprecedented concussion study comparing brain vital signs between contact and non-contact sports

Photo: Brentwood College School students Zander Levenberg (L) and Julian Wan taking part in a concussion study comparing brain vital signs between contact and non-contact sports athletes.
March 14, 2022

Mill Bay, British Columbia, Canada (March 14, 2022) – This week is Brain Awareness Week (March 14-20) and a team of high school students at Brentwood College School in Mill Bay on Vancouver Island launched an unprecedented scientific study comparing brain vital signs between high school athletes participating in contact sports and non-contact sports. The BRAIN team (Brentwood Research Applied Innovation in Neuroscience) has partnered with NeuroCatch Inc., a BC-based neuro-health innovation technology company, to monitor brain vital signs using the NeuroCatch® Platform in a high impact concussion study on student athletes.

The study, for students by students, examines changes in cognitive brain responses and is comparing changes between contact sports (e.g., hockey, rugby, and soccer) and non-contact sports (e.g., rowing, track and field, and tennis). The research builds upon published studies involving Dr. Ryan D’Arcy, a Brentwood Alumni, neuroscientist and president and chief scientific officer of NeuroCatch Inc., on concussion in hockey and football involving researchers from the Mayo Clinic, Sanford Clinic, and Simon Fraser University.

The BRAIN team is led by David McCarthy, a Science teacher at Brentwood College in combination with the school’s Health Centre. Mr. McCarthy catalyzed this unique medical research study by reconnecting with Dr. D’Arcy and bringing together a bright and energetic team of Grade 11 and Grade 12 students to form the BRAIN team. The team successfully applied for research funding and underwent unprecedented scientific training in neurotechnology in order to develop an internationally competitive study.

The study began in September 2021 by using the NeuroCatch® Platform, a Health Canada-approved Class II medical device that is an objective, rapid, at the point of care and neuro-physiological brain function assessment system, to collect baseline brain wave data in students participating in contact and non-contact sports across three terms over the academic school year. NeuroCatch® translates complex brain waves measured using portable electroencephalography (EEG) into simple, fast, user-friendly and intuitive results that provide an objective evaluation of cognitive brain function. Called the ABCs of brain function, brain vital signs track three well-established neural responses for auditory sensation, basic attention, and cognitive processing.

The BRAIN team is currently beginning the second term of brain vital sign monitoring to focus on changes in cognitive brain responses in both concussive and when undetected in sub-concussive events. The anticipated findings of this study are expected to address critical scientific questions focused on contact versus non-contact sports, female versus male brains, and the recovery time required following concussive injury.

“We are not aware of anything like this, where a remarkable team of Grade 11 and Grade 12 students have come together to conduct world-class medical research in the neuroscience of concussion. It has been fascinating to watch the team perform research that is aligned with leading medical centres and universities and change the game in terms of mobilizing knowledge and breakthroughs in our society,” says David McCarthy, the study’s lead Science teacher from Brentwood College School.

“The students are doing this over and above their demanding weekly schedules, and we are very excited to get preliminary results soon, particularly about the emerging role of repetitive subconcussive impacts on cognitive brain function. When the study is completed, we intend to present the findings at our TEDx event and publish them in an international leading scientific journal. It will be an unprecedented example of student leadership in medical science and innovation.”

“The BRAIN team collaboration is demonstrating firsthand the incredible, untapped scientific potential that can be unleashed from our young and passionate secondary school students. The level of research the students are leading with NeuroCatch® is remarkably innovative and impressive. Our US-Canada partners in concussion are excited to learn about this initiative and we are all eagerly awaiting the results from Brentwood,” says Dr. Ryan D’Arcy, a neurotechnology pioneer involved with the collaboration who is also the BC Leadership Chair/Professor at Simon Fraser University.

"I never thought I would have this immersive experience and the opportunity to use innovative neuroscience equipment directly in high school,” says Julian Wan, a grade 12 student at Brentwood College School involved in the project. “To start something like this as early as in grade 11, enriches my experience and sets me up well for a career in medicine."

"We want our pioneering study to act as a catalyst or spark, blazing a trail for more Brentwood students and faculty to conduct scientific research—and, hopefully, publish papers," adds Zander Levenberg, a grade 11 student at Brentwood College School.

The BRAIN research study was designed and carried out by Brentwood College School and is partially funded by Brentwood’s Innovation Grant. Financial support was also provided by HealthTech Connex Inc. to support the novel application of the NeuroCatch® Platform.

About Brentwood College School

Brentwood is a progressive, co-ed boarding school for Grades 9 to 12 located on a spectacular oceanfront campus on Vancouver Island in BC, Canada. Brentwood provides a modern, west coast learning experience for globally minded students who embrace our values of grit and joy. Student choice is a unique part of our culture and a deciding factor in who attends the School. This creates a supportive community of students from over 55 countries who gain the independence and skills to succeed in the post-secondary world.

About NeuroCatch Inc.

NeuroCatch Inc. is a neuro-health technology company focused on translating neuroscience research innovations into real-world medical devices and consumer products. Located within the Health and Technology District in Surrey, British Columbia, NeuroCatch Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of HealthTech Connex Inc. Its first medical device, the NeuroCatch® Platform, is an objective, rapid neuro-physiological brain function assessment system that is licensed by Health Canada as a Class II medical device. It is easy to use, cost-effective and readily accessible to healthcare practitioners, researchers and performance specialists in Canada, the US and beyond.


Media contact:

Brentwood College School: Erin Coulson, 250-252-3438, [email protected]

NeuroCatch Inc.: Yvonne Chiang, 604-880-5090, [email protected]