A new device uses data from human blinking to identify a possible concussion.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than two million people suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year. Of those, about 50,000 patients die. While most people are familiar with the term “concussion,” many do not realize that it is actually the most common form of brain injury.
What Is A Brain Injury And How Do Such Injuries Occur?
The gelatinous brain, floating in fluid within the protective bony skull, is the seat of human consciousness. With a weight of around three pounds, the adult brain is the central marvel of the human nervous system. Any damage or insult to the brain can impact your cognitive capabilities, physical functionality, personality, and future.
While the skull does a good job protecting the brain, it can also become the weapon that injures the brain during a vehicle accident. Sudden force can hurl the pudding-like brain against the front, and then the back, of the skull, shearing neurons and irreparably bruising brain tissue. In addition to motor vehicle crashes, other causes of brain injury include:
- Falling or slipping and hitting the head
- Blunt force trauma
- Penetrative injury such as from a gunshot
- Brain hypoxia which occurs when injury, illness, or medical procedure interrupts delivery of oxygen to the brain
We talked earlier about the lack of screening tools in emergency departments for patients who suffer a blow to the head. If a physician fails to accurately diagnose a brain injury, symptoms can quickly worsen or remain chronic.
Although CT and MRI scans are used to assist in the diagnosis of brain injury, neither of these evaluations is rapid, and both rely on the ability and experience of the person reading the scan to make an accurate diagnosis.
The Eyes Have It—Painless Technology To Boost The Accuracy of TBI Diagnosis
A new device developed by the Medical University of South Carolina captures quantitative data from patients who peer into a device that looks something like an extended Virtual Reality viewer. While looking into the device, several puffs of air are directed toward the eyes on a random basis to collect metrics on the blink reflex over approximately five minutes or less.
Measurements taken during the brief, non-invasive test include the speed and frequency of actions involving:
- Eye movement
- Eyelid movement
Because the blink reflex involves neurological hardware from the eye to the brain stem, data gathered on these simple movements can provide hard qualitative evidence to identify a normal or abnormal realm of brain activity after an impact or other injury.
The knowledge that reflexive eye movements can reveal brain damage is not new, but it is only now that technology has advanced to a point where evaluation can occur with relative ease.
The development of a device, or similar devices, based on blink reflex data could find wide use in emergency departments as a clinical diagnostic tool, or at field-side to assist in removing concussed athletes from play.
Instead of holding up fingers and asking injured patients to recite the alphabet, physicians and others may have actionable brain injury information in the blink of an eye.
Speak with an experienced brain injury law firm with offices in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington D.C.. Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. is a successful and highly reputable law firm serving patients who suffer brain injury and serious personal injury from medical malpractice. Dedicated to our clients and aggressive in the courtroom, we offer decisive legal help when you need it most. Call us at 410-234-1000 or contact us today to schedule a free consultation.