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Ask doctor to assess concussions

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Walter Fielding (Tom Hanks) and Anna Crowley (Shelley Long) learned two important lessons in the movie “The Money Pit”: If it looks too good to be true, it usually is, and don’t try to fix it yourself. A similar warning was recently issued by the Food and Drug Administration about the dangers of using unapproved medical devices to diagnose and assess concussions.

These unapproved DIY medical devices come as apps that are available on a smartphone or tablet and are popping up all over. They say they measure cognitive changes in concentration and memory, and physical changes such as vision, balance and speech.

Don’t fall for it. Missing or delaying a diagnosis of a concussion can have far-reaching consequences, including permanent brain fog, fatigue, dizziness, mood changes and more.

Now, there are FDA-approved concussion-assessment devices (we reviewed one recently that uses a virtual reality eye-tracking platform to aid in evaluation of concussion). That’s the kind of technology you should be lobbying for at your schools or medical facilities.

If the head trauma is sports-related — whether it happened in a sports program in elementary or high school, or college, intramural or professional sports — you can rely on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Return to Play protocols (actually, they’re laws) that are in place in all 50 states.

When it comes to concussion, you have to use your head. Don’t look for short cuts or quick fixes. If your team has a certified athletic trainer, ask for his or her advice. Then head for a doctor’s office or hospital — not your computer.


In the 2007 horror film “I Am Legend,” a U.S. virologist (Will Smith) lives in post-apocalyptic New York City, where a genetically re-engineered measles virus (created to cure cancer) has mutated and turned everyone but him into a zombie. He is somehow immune to the virus and plans to use his own blood to stop it in its tracks.

In reality, the only way to stop it in its tracks is with the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, which is both safe and effective. It’s why the disease was declared eradicated in the U.S. in 2000!

While only about 1 person in 10 million has a serious problem from the vaccine, for every 10,000 people who get the vaccine, one person is prevented from having a life-threatening or disabling reaction to the disease. But America is currently facing multistate measles outbreaks that show no signs of slowing down, thanks to false information about vaccine risks and an increase in international travel.

Take a shot at avoiding measles: If you’re an adult born after 1957 (before that almost everyone had the measles), and unsure if you were vaccinated, ask your doctor for a blood test that detects measles antibodies. If you weren’t vaccinated, get the two-shot MMR now. Even if you were vaccinated, folks born between 1957 and 1989 generally had one dose and should get the second dose, which will boost immunity from 93% to 97%.

Exposed or at risk: Nonimmunized people, including babies, gain protection if vaccinated within 72 hours of exposure.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to

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