A Portable Device to Detect TBI on the Sidelines

Emory University scientist Michelle LaPlaca, PhD, talks about her work on DETECT, a low-cost, portable device to detect possible neurocognitive symptoms after a hit to the head.

We've developed a neuropsychological screening tool for bringing out cognitive symptoms that may be affected after a brain injury. A colleague of mine, Dr David Wright in Emergency Medicine at Emory, and myself developed a portable, very light device that is basically a computer board with very simple inputs, it's almost like a handheld gaming device, and there's a helmet that goes on top of the head with a visor and a screen and audio input. This is an immersive environment because we know that, a lot of times, when a suspected concussion has happened it is on the sideline, which can be very busy, very noisy, in an emergency room, and in other settings that you don't really have the isolated space to take neuropsychological tests, which, when done, will take an hour or more, and they have to be done in a quiet room. So, we developed Detect, which is an abbreviated neuropsychological test, and the person has to answer yes or no or right or left when they have questions or stimuli that they're asked to respond to on the screen. This isn't meant to replace traditional neuropsychological screening or neuropsychological evaluation, it's meant to give more quantitative information to the physician who is making the decision about whether a person has had a concussion or not and also to give guidance to the athletic trainers and coaches as to what that person's cognitive state is. So, the tests actually measure things like reaction time, working memory, information processing, and some of the cognitive skills that we know are affected after concussion. The Detect is still in development, and we are conducting research studies with football players and other populations in order to validate its usefulness.
Posted on BrainLine October 4, 2012.

Produced by Vicky Youcha, Brian King, and Jared Schaubert, BrainLine.