New Tool Helps Diagnose Brain Injury

20 Dec 2014

A new tool that works through an eye tracking system that scans the movements of the eyes while the person is watching a music video or a show on television can possibly be used as a biological marker for brain injury in the future.

The eye tracking device has been developed by researchers at NYU, and the device was recently tested on 169 veterans. Out of these subjects, 157 were neurologically healthy and 12 showed some amount of damage in the nerves that connected the eyes, or some amount of swelling in the brain in the area just adjacent to these nerves.

The researchers monitored the movements of the eyes of the subjects for about four minutes. They monitored the person’s eye movements while they were watching music videos, and found that in neurologically healthy persons, the ratios were close to perfect with horizontal eye movements, and equally vertical movement. However, in the group of patients of 12 that had some amount of nerve damage or brain swelling, there were abnormal eye movement ratios.

The researchers say that the results of the study are exciting because the eye tracking device is one that is very simple to use, and can easily be used on the battlefield to measure the extent of brain injury veterans have suffered in an explosion on the battlefield. The device allows the person not just to understand the severity of the injury, but also to pinpoint the exact location of the injury or the area in the brain, or the nerve where the damage has occurred. The diagnosis of brain injury will therefore be faster and more accurate, and therefore, the patient can begin receiving treatment for the injury as quickly as possible. Speedy diagnosis and treatment is key to minimizing any long-term impact of the brain injury.