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NAU football using robot as part of concussion study

The NAU football team will look a little different when it takes on the University of Arizona in Tucson Friday night.

It’s not an aesthetic change but rather an upgrade to their personnel — their medical personnel that is.

According to the Arizona Daily Sun, the Lumberjacks will be utilizing new robotic technology on the sidelines this season with the hopes of improving how players are accessed following head-related collisions.

Mayo Clinic will be working with NAU to test the feasibility of using a telemedicine robot to assess athletes with suspected concussions during football games as part of a research study.

With sophisticated robotic technology, use of a specialized remote controlled camera system allows patients to be “seen” by the neurology specialist, miles away, in real time.

During the study, the robot equipped with a specialized camera system, remotely operated by a Mayo Clinic neurologist located in Phoenix who has the ability to assess a player for symptoms and signs of a concussion and to consult with sideline medical personnel.

Dr. Lisa Campos, the vice president for Intercollegiate Athletics at Northern Arizona University, believes the research conducted during the concussion robot study could have far-reaching effects that go well beyond just the Lumberacks football program.

“Partnering with the Mayo Clinic in its telemedicine study will further this research and potentially improve diagnosis for rural areas that may not have access to team doctors or neurologists,” Campos told the Arizona Daily Sun. “The study allows the NAU Sports Medicine Staff and team doctors to continue to make all diagnoses and return to play decisions for our students, while investigating the effectiveness and efficiencies of telemedicine.”