Aug 5, 2015
New Device to Diagnose Concussions from the Sidelines

Researchers at Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new device that performs a 15-minute assessment of whether or not an athlete has suffered a concussion. Called “I-Detect,” it uses computer-screen goggles, headphones, and a computer pad to test players’ memory loss, reaction, and response time.

“We wanted to develop a tool that would assist the clinicians on the sidelines or in the military or in whatever location that they are in to reliably and consistently pick up concussions. And those tools don’t currently exist,” Dr. David Wright, an emergency room physician and co-inventor of the device, told

Widely used “concussion checklists” on the sidelines can be unreliable because they’re not standardized and are based on subjective reports from athletes about their symptoms. I-Detect makes assessments objective and also allows for quicker, more accurate diagnosis, so that student-athletes don’t continue to play while injured.

“We are putting them at risk because we are not diagnosing (concussions) when they are happening, and (students) continue to play,” said Dr. Ken Mautner with Emory Sports Medicine.

The devices are in a test phase and may be on the market next year. Researchers admit that there are some challenges in validating the tool.

“To validate it you have to get players who have had a concussion and you have to test it against some gold standard,” Wright said. “The problem with traumatic injuries is that we don’t really have a gold standard to compare it to. We don’t have pathology to look at, and say, yes, they’ve been injured.”

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