BRIGHTON, N.Y. -- Concerns about concussions, once thought about only in big-league sports, are an increasing concern out on the pee-wee fields.
Concussions could lead to serious brain injury later in life, but as to how big the risk is for young players, doctors at the Rochester Holistic Center said it depends on your genes.
The SportSafe genetic swab test determines what variation of the APO E gene a child or adult carries. APO E is also related to the development of Alzheimer's disease.
Children and adults who carry the E4 variation of the gene have a harder time recovering from head injuries and are more likely to suffer serious consequences from them.
“If you were would have injury, whether sports-related or automobile, or any fall or any head injury, you'll be more likely, eight times more likely, to have long-term problems from the injury which are generally in the area: impaired cognition, memory, brain processing, attention, concentration,” said Dr. Mahipal Chaudhri, psychiatrist.
Specialists said the test is 100 percent accurate. Insurance does not cover the $250 cost, but that its peace of mind for parents who worry about their children playing contact sports.
“We feel like it's an opportunity for a parent to ascertain what sports they can kind of steer their child toward,” said Kimberly Kavanagh, functional nutrition consultant. “If they have a high risk factor based on this genetic test, they might be more inclined to steer them to swimming or tennis or non-impact sport, and it's very relevant right now, because athletics in hockey and football, they're realizing the long term affects of concussions."
Doctors said the test is one more tool helping parents and doctors make good decisions about a patient's health by understanding what's happening down to a cellular level.
“Genetic information is invaluable. Once you have it, then it's actionable,” said Kavanagh. “Genes are proven and they don't change. We're born that way."