A technology that utilizes infrared cameras to track eye movements is capable of diagnosing a concussion in one minute, potentially of great use to those who hurt their head during contact sports. Ben Gruber reports.
There's growing concern surrounding brain injuries in contact sports. Concussion can be difficult to detect, but tech company SyncThink says its device takes the guesswork out of diagnosing mild traumatic brain injuries. Concussion symptoms can vary from headaches and confusion to slurred speech and vomiting. Sometimes symptoms take days to appear, leaving athletes at risk of more serious brain injury if they continue to play. Concussions affect the brain's anticipatory neural network, which guides how we react to the world around us. The largest input into that network is visual. It's this fact that Boston-based SyncThink puts at the core of its technology to diagnose a concussion very quickly. SOUNDBITE (English) DAN BEELER, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER, SYNCTHINK, SAYING: "Our assessment data is collected at a very high rate which allows us to produce a full assessment within one minute." First, a virtual reality headset connected to a computer tablet is put on the injured person's head. A moving circle then appears in their headset display. As their eyes follow the circle, infrared cameras follow their eyes. The data collected is processed and compared against a baseline of normal eye movement. The test aims to significantly decrease the chances of people with concussions incurring further injuries, both on the playing field and the battlefield. The company has been working with college sport teams and the U.S. military to perfect the device. SOUNDBITE (English) DAN BEELER, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER, SYNCTHINK, SAYING: "There is much more awareness of the risks out there and a growing acceptance of those risks and ways to mitigate them and our technology can play a part in that." SyncThink says its device is a fast diagnostic tool that will prevent injured athletes from worsening their injury unnecessarily.