Eye-Tracking Technology Shows Concussion Severity
Written by Editor   
Tuesday, September 23, 2014 02:24 PM

Every 8 seconds in the United States, someone gets a serious blow to the head from a fall, accident, or collision, she said. "We can't tell how badly they're hurt. Sometimes we can't even tell if they're hurt at all."  The best technologies — CT and MRI — generally don't detect concussion. The brain may appear normal even when it's not functioning normally.  And even if a physician knows there's a brain injury, it's hard to tell whether the injury is getting better over time.

A recent study started with the theory that less severely injured patients would be able to watch television, whereas those more severely injured would stare into space software to track people's pupils as they follow action on a screen was developed an then eye movement of people with brain injuries and eye movement from a healthy control group was compared.  Researchers tracked whether people's eyes were able to stick with a focal point as it moved. If an eye lagged behind another for even a fraction of a second, the software detected it.

The results showed a clear difference in the eye function of a healthy person and one with a brain injury.  

"In many patients, eye movement abnormalities actually revealed where in the brain the injury might have occurred." Statisticians confirmed a clear statistical difference between the healthy and brain-injured groups.

"We saw, sadly enough, that concussion in children results in just as severe eye movement abnormalities as it does in adults. ... We feel this is a huge issue in pediatrics, because the primary work of children is school," which is heavily dependent on visual processing.  A concussion can make eye movement a chore, when it should be effortless, she said.  As a result of this research a new system has been developed that can track these eye changes.  The system could be useful in a sports locker room, she said, and results could be available in 3.5 minutes or less.

The technology is noninvasive and it eliminates the variation possible when a clinician does a physical exam.  The system is ready for submission to the US Food and Drug Administration and others will have to replicate her findings.

"For doctors who treat brain injury, this might be a quantum leap.  We don't have to guess anymore. Concussion doesn't have to be invisible."

Source:  http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/831890?nlid=65843_2981&src=wnl_edit_dail&uac=151914AX