Date Published: 01-02-2015

It happens in a lot of sports: a player suffers a head injury and is taken to be tested for concussion. If the tests are negative, then the player can often return to the game. It’s not as simple as it sounds however, with current tests often failing to pick up on symptoms. Now, however, a team of scientists claim to have developed new technology that can quickly and accurately gauge the extent of head injuries.

Concussion is a serious injury whose symptoms can include confusion, headache, dizziness, nausea, and difficulties with memory. Current tests like MRI and CT scans can often miss concussions and athletes often try to downplay the situation in order to get back on the field.

Writing in the Journal of Neurotrauma, scientists based in New York and Texas claim the new technology can detect concussions in less than 4 minutes. They ran a trial comparing how healthy volunteers differed from patients suffering from head trauma when tasked with tracking objects on screen. Participants were asked to watch a screen with a music video in a smaller window moving around the display. Concussion patients often have trouble tracking moving objects, and the study was able to measure this. Results showed that those with more severe head injuries had more trouble tracking the object on screen.

The technology could have a variety of applications, from use in emergency rooms across the globe to the side-lines of major sporting events.