Researchers have been hunting for an objective tool that can help diagnose concussions and quantify the severity of brain injuries. According to a report published in the Journal of Neurosurgery, they may be a step closer thanks to the latest eye tracking technology.
Researchers from the NYU Langone Medical Center say they have created new eye tracking technology that makes it easier to identify and assess potential brain injuries.
Lead investigator Uzma Samadani, an assistant professor in the departments of Neurosurgery, Psychiatry, Neuroscience, and Physiology at NYU Langone, explains there are 43 distinct definitions for concussions which have made the injury even more difficult to diagnose.
The study found that in approximately 90 percent of concussion cases, patients reported dysfunction in their eye movement.
The researchers recruited 64 healthy control participants and 75 individuals who suffered trauma resulting in hospital admission for the study, all of whom were between the ages of 18 and 60.
All participants viewed a music video while researchers observed the individual’s eye movement of more than 200 seconds. With this process, the researchers found 13 patients who had suffered trauma and had brain damage observable via a CT scan. They also found 39 patients with trauma with head injuries who appeared normal on brain scans showed reduced ability to properly co-ordinate their eyes.
“Two patients who suffer a head injury and present with virtually-identical CT-scans might have completely different symptoms,” says Samadani. “That’s where eye-tracking can help objectively reveal when one patient may be much more affected by a concussion than another.”
Tests like this could lead to a potential breakthrough in objectively diagnosing brain trauma that is not apparent in brain scans and improving treatment following injury.