A new device may be able to help doctors diagnose concussions on the sidelines of athletic fields.
The Texas Biomedical Device Center has developed handheld portable device capable of quickly measuring an individual’s visual tracking abilities.
The high-tech pair of goggles is called Neurotriage and performs a quick baseline test for athletes and then follow up tests after an impact.
According to the center’s website, through measuring eye movements, doctors can detect impairments in brain function that are likely to result in poor performance.
The system can capture eye movements in under two minutes, detecting performance metrics such as reaction time, target tracking, balance and visual steadiness. Changes in these parameters following an event may result in slow or incorrect reactions, which could lead to further injury.
“The brain is a dynamic machine that changes after injuries so you may not see the symptoms of a concussion for minutes, hours or days after the event. But, what we can do is detect very small changes in how the brain processes information, how the eyes move, and if we can build a system that allows us to quantify that, we can see those changes,” said Dr. Rob Rennaker, Professor and Department Head for Bioengineering at University of Texas at Dallas and the director of Texas Biomedical Device Center.
Athletes with slower reaction times, loss of stability and balance may not be able to prepare for impacts, which can them more susceptible to concussion.
Athletes removed from the game can be tested every few minutes to identify when their brain performance measurements return to baseline and they can return to the game.
“With this system, we can tell you what you look like before the game and we can tell you what you look like after the hit,” said Rennaker. “We can compare those and that gives you a quantitative measure to say, ‘you’re different than you were before,’ and now we have objective evidence.”
He says the goal is to have the devices on the market in the fall of 2018.