Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center have developed a unique diagnostic tool for concussion or brain injury that can be utilized in the emergency room, and potentially on the sidelines at sporting events. The state-of-the-art tool is described in a new study in the journal Neurotrauma.

The novel eye-tracking device was originally developed by Uzma Samadani, MD, PhD, and colleagues at the Cohen Veterans Center to assess eye movement in veterans of the long Middle East conflicts suspected of suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussion or other forms of brain injury. In this new study, pupil movements of 75 trauma patients and 64 healthy control patients were tracked and compared for over 200 seconds while the participants watched a music video.

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Thirteen trauma patients who had hit their heads and had CT scans showing new brain damage, along with 39 trauma patients who had hit their heads and had normal CT scans, had significantly reduced ability to coordinate their eye movements compared to the healthy controls. Twenty-three trauma subjects who had bodily or extremity injuries but did not require head CT scans had similar eye movement coordination to the healthy controls. Among patients who had hit their heads and had normal CT scans, most were found to be slightly worse at 1–2 weeks following the injury and subsequently recovered approximately one month post-injury. The severity of concussive symptoms correlated with severity of disconjugation among all trauma patients.

While additional research is needed to establish the tool’s sensitivity and specificity, the results of this study indicate that tracking pupil movements with this diagnostic tool is a promising test and biological market for detecting concussion and brain injury.

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