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'Fencing Response' Gives Common Sense Guide To Understanding Concussions

Sports fans have certainly seen their fair share of hard hits between collegiate and professional athletes this football season. 

Luckily, those players have the benefit of medical doctors on the sidelines to diagnose traumatic brain injuries that result from those impacts. But research conducted by a Phoenix neuroscientist can aid average people with no medical background in detecting a concussion.   

It’s called the "fencing response," and it refers to what frequently happens to the body when an athlete takes a blow to the head.

According to Jonathan Lifshitz, a scientist at Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children's Hospital who coined the term “fencing response,” he said it was identified by watching thousands of YouTube videos to compile evidence that it wasn’t a random event.

“The presentation is the abnormal posturing, typically of the forearms, but it can also be the abdomen and the legs,” he said. "That knowledge can then serve any playground, school or organized sport where there may not be a medical professional on site to evaluate head injuries," Lifshitz said.

Lifshitz said traumatic brain injury is one of the leading causes of acquired disability in infants and children.

Tom Maxedon was the host of KJZZ’s Weekend Edition from 2017 to 2024.