This week on the Health Tech Weekly Podcast let’s look at the difficult task of assessing and monitoring patients with possible concussions. Despite all our modern technology, there is still no definitive concussion testing method to diagnose a concussion. A concussion is essentially a bruised area of the brain following a traumatic injury.
Usually, health care professionals have to judge a concussion based on the perceived severity of the injury and other outward, subjective signs. Researchers at with the Veteran’s Administration and other health care professionals have developed a new concussion testing technology that uses the tracking of eye movements while watching a video to determine if there’s a concussion or not.
This is particularly interesting to me because as a paramedic and nurse I’ve always been taught that the “eyes are the windows to the brain.” What goes on with the eyes often gives a sign of underlying brain injury or symptoms.
Eye-Tracking Concussion Testing
The eye tracking technology they developed works like this. A person sits in a specially designed chair and rests their chin on a chin rest to hold their head in a particular position in front of the screen and camera. Then they watch a music video that plays while the camera tracks the way their eyes move around while watching the video and compares it to a normal person’s eye movements.
By comparing the movement of the eyes over the course of the video, the researchers propose that their computer algorithm can predict the presence of a brain injury. The software assigns a percentage to each patient assessed that represents the likelihood that individual is suffering from a concussion’s effects.
Concussion testing like this is important as we continue to focus on the effects of concussions on athletes and try to determine how soon an athlete can return to regular practices and competitions. Stay tuned as they continue to research this technology in the future. It could become the standard by which all are assessed for a traumatic brain injury.
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