According to the CDC more than 3 million student athletes receive concussions every year, but an estimated 86% go undiagnosed. In order to address this major problem in our community, my club, TJ Bioengineering, has built a tool for trainers and coaches to use for a more portable, affordable, and faster screening of concussions.
We used a common diagnostic methodology, the tracking of patient's eye movements in response to stimuli. The main difference? Cost and portability. Hospital equipment to perform such tests range from $9,000 to $20,000, while our device, because of the materials used, can be built for less $80 by leveraging recent developments in inexpensive hardware. We mounted two PS3 Eye Cameras to Google Cardboard and wired the input to an Raspberry Pi attached to the headset. Four LEDs were wired and positioned around the frame of the headset. We use OpenCV (Computer Vision library) to track the user’s eyes as the LEDs are turned on and off. As previous studies have shown, erratic eye movements are a reliable biomarker for concussions and the results are communicated via Bluetooth to an iPhone app used by a sideline trainer. Our club has built and tested a working prototype that carries out these functions.
Importantly, our system is not technically a diagnosis tool but rather an investigational screening tool for athletic trainers to use on the sidelines. Last spring we beta tested our device at my high school in Fairfax County and with 12 different concussions diagnosed over a month, 78% of students who were screened positive with our device on the sideline, later also tested positive with traditional tests in the clinic. This fall season, we have collaborated with athletic trainers to have organized a more large scale test with Fairfax County Public Schools where we can collect data over the football season. By funding this project, we can dramatically make participating sports safer by reducing potential for further damage when playing.
Funded by Northern Virginia (NOVA) (January 2017)