Would you believe a dependable tool for diagnosing concussions can be downloaded on a tablet?
UPI reported that a company called Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard has developed an app called NeuroAssess.
A tablet app using a stylus and a tracing exercise can assess neuromuscular performance at a doctor’s office or the scene of an injury, its U.S. developers say.
One application could be to quickly diagnose sport concussions on the sidelines during a game, they said.
Standard hand-eye coordination tests doctors use to monitor neuromuscular deficits when a patient is injured or as a patient ages can be subjective, the researchers said, but a rapid assessment device dubbed NeuroAssess can measure neuromuscular performance quantitatively.
As TechnologyReview.com explained it, the key for the app will be having a tablet that uses a stylus which will help to diagnose the head injury.
… the researchers created an application implemented on a Panasonic tablet with a stylus. At root, it’s a simple tracing exercise. A patient is asked to use a stylus to follow a moving target around a circle. Proprietary algorithms measure to what extent a patient deviates from the proper path. Administer this test to a quarterback who just got sacked, in theory, and instead of vague subjective answers, now you can actually have a numerical score that’s something of a window into his brain state.
The tech could be useful not only on the NFL sidelines, but also in doctor’s offices everywhere. Said one of the researchers, Leia Stirling, who led the study: “One day it might sit next to the thermometer and pressure cuff in the doctor’s office. … Just as your blood pressure is recorded during every visit, so could your neuromuscular score be tracked over time to determine progress through recovery and rehabilitation.”
Stirling’s team is in early stages yet; for now, they’ve only collected baseline data on how healthy people trace these circles. The next step is to get a pool of data on how people with neuromuscular pathologies do so. “The team is currently conducting a study with athletes in the Boston area to determine the sensitivity of the technology in diagnosing concussions,” says Wyss.
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor
Photo courtesy Wyss Institute.