Machine Design

Concussion or not?

It's estimated that 750,000 people in the U.S. suffer mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI), or concussions, each year.

Biomedical researcher Michelle LaPlace demonstrates Detect, a field test for detecting concussions. The test can be administered practically anywhere, including the sidelines of a football field.

And most are unaware of it. A person with a concussion who goes back to work or play can more easily suffer another deadly injury or contract lifelong disabilities.

Medical researchers at Georgia Tech have developed a simple test that can diagnosis concussion. Current testing takes 2 hr or more and must take place in a quiet room.

The new test, dubbed Detect for Display Enhanced Testing for Concussions and mTBI, takes only 7 min and can be done on a battlefield or the sidelines of a football game. It consists of three neuropsychological tests administered from a laptop via headphones and immersive goggles.

For example, the patient is told to move objects of different shape, size, and color using a mouse or other game-type controller. The device measures accuracy and response times while the goggles and headphones minimize distractions. The software extrapolates from the readings as to whether the patient is suffering a concussion.

The test can be administered by almost anyone, not necessarily a physician or trained neurophysiologist. Although the device has been tested in labs and hospital emergency rooms, the Georgia Tech football team will be testing it in their upcoming season. Scientists hope the diagnostic tool will be on the market in three to five years.

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