Eye-tracking tech could detect football concussions
A new device that tracks eye movements may be able to measure the severity of brain injuries for football players in emergency rooms and potentially even on the sidelines during games.
When a person is healthy, their eyes move in sync with each other. When there is brain injury, however, the eyes may move in different directions, although subtly enough that it often goes undetected by doctors. A team from NYU’s Langone Medical Center tested new eye-tracking technology on three groups: those with a brain injury visible in a CT scan, those with an injury that was not visible, and a healthy control group. The new tool, which can be carried in a backpack, more precisely tracks the location of each eye and compares their movements.
Eye movements were tracked as patients watched Shakira and Disney music videos. The results, published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, showed the eye tracker accurately detected brain injury, and was able to measure severity of injury based on the degree of eye coordination.
Researchers have long been searching for a more effective way to measure brain injuries, since doctors have been using electroencephalography or EEG for close to 50 years. An EEG uses electrodes on the scalp to detect brain impulses; however, there is no way to tell where the injury is coming from within the brain. Other tests such as blood marker, or neurophysiological testing may be altered by chemical pathways, or manipulated by patients.