A new diagnostic tool for concussion has been developed by neuroscientists and concussion experts in the United States, who claim that it can be used to effectively detect the condition and quantify its severity.
The tool is based on a novel eye-tracking device that can measure the severity of concussion or brain injury in patients visiting emergency departments following head trauma. The researchers hope that one day it could also be used on the sidelines at sporting events to make a rapid diagnosis.
According to NYU Langone Medical Center, which led the study, optometrists estimate that up to 90% of patients with concussions or blast injuries exhibit dysfunction in their eye movements.
The eye-tracking technology used in this research was originally developed by Dr. Uzma Samadani and colleagues at the Cohen Veterans Center to assess eye movement in members of the military who were suspected of suffering from traumatic brain injury, concussion or other forms of brain injury.
In the new study, researchers compared 64 healthy control subjects to 75 patients who had experienced head trauma and went to the emergency department at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City. They tracked and compared the movements of patients´ pupils for over 200 seconds while watching a music video.
It was found that 13 trauma patients who had hit their heads and had CT scans showing new brain damage, as well as 39 trauma patients who had hit their heads and had normal CT scans, had significantly less ability to coordinate their eye movements than normal, uninjured control subjects. In contrast, 23 trauma subjects who had bodily or extremity injuries but did not require head CT scans had similar abilities to coordinate eye movements as uninjured controls.
Among patients who had hit their heads and had normal CT scans, most were slightly worse at 1-2 weeks after the injury, and subsequently recovered about one month after the injury. Among all trauma patients, the severity of concussive symptoms correlated with severity of disconjugacy, NYU Langone Medical Center said.
The findings of the study have been published in the Journal of Neurotrauma.