With advances in technology come advances in the tools we have to observe, analyse, and understand our brains. Currently, two new pieces of software are being developed that have the ability to detect a traumatic brain injury (TBI), but each does so in its own unique way.
1.) Meet DANA
One such program is a mobile application designed to assist doctors in identifying TBI within five minutes. The phone app, called DANA for short, stands for Defense Automated Neurobehavioral Assessment, and has recently been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for clinical use.
DANA operates like a video game with exercises that test and record the participant’s speed and accuracy. A baseline assessment is first taken, that way, if a head injury occurs, the patient can be inexpensively tested on their cognitive efficiency. The results are then compared to their baseline by a clinician who can determine necessary information based off the difference between the two results.
The company behind DANA is Maryland-based AnthroTronix, Inc. According to founder and CEO Corinna Lathan, “measuring reaction time is like taking the temperature of the brain.” Not only is DANA operable on a multitude of platforms, the software is also easily accessible in almost every setting and location.
2.) Eye movements indicate brain health
Another upcoming software in the neuroscience tech world is a technology developed at NYU Langone Medical Center that can measure the impact of a brain injury and pinpoint its location in under four minutes by tracking and analysing the eye movements of patients while they watch music videos.
Participants watch television or music videos for 220 seconds while their ratio of vertical to horizontal eye movements are measured. Neurologically sound subjects have a fairly even vertical-to-horizontal movement ratio of about one-to-one. Subjects with nerve damage or brain swelling have abnormal movement ratios that correlate to the specific nerves that are affected. In one study measuring the abnormal eye movements of patients with swelling in the brain, surgical procedures to fix the problem also served to restore the patent’s eye movements to normal ranges.
Scientists are just getting started
Both of these technologies are helping to aid in the detection of brain injuries, which in the past have been hard to classify due to technological limitations. What’s even more exciting is these two are just the beginning.