According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Traumatic brain injury (or TBI as you have heard of it) is a major cause of death and disability in the United States. TBIs contribute to about 30% of all injury deaths. Every day, more than 150 people in the United States die from injuries that include TBI. Fifty people will have died from a TBI while you listen to this podcast.
Those who survive a TBI can face effects that last a few days, or for the rest of their lives. Effects of TBI can include impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression). A TBI is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI and figuring out when a blow has caused impairment, a step on the way to impairment or no effect has vexed scientists and engineers for decades.
Most TBIs are basically concussions…but the statistics are scary…3 million TBI-related emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, and deaths occurred in the United States.
Because no two people are exactly alike, no two brain injuries are exactly alike. So how can we create accurate and predictive diagnostic devices that inform us about not just what immediate damage was caused, but what may happen and how to measure whether we are fixing it?
A Pittsburgh-based company is using its 30 plus years of experience in eye tracking technology to help with the diagnosis of TBI. NeuroKinetics is a world leader in eye tracking technology and non-invasive neuro-otologic diagnostic testing. Central to their I-Portal® product mix and advances in clinical eye tracking is the premise that the eye is the window to the brain.
The guest on this episode, Neuro Kinetics CEO, Howison Schroeder, has been building a successful company that is based on technology that precisely tracks the reflexive responses of the eye in response to a battery of stimuli. Their research has shown that the detection of abnormal eye movements can indicate the presence of over 200 diseases and medical conditions. The technology is non-invasive and could become a powerful indicator of disease and prognosis. Concussions are not just clinically important, the estimated commercial market for an effective concussion diagnostic exceeds $1.5 billion.