New device created in Charleston can detect severity of concussions

The Blink Reflexometer.

Whether they happen on or off the field, concussions range from mild to severe.

But, determining how severe can be difficult to diagnose.

“Did your brain slow down? How do we measure that objectively?” said Dr. Nancey Tsai, the creator of the Blink Reflexometer.

She said the device said can answer those questions.

In the blink of an eye, she said the device can determine if there’s been any changes to the brain’s processing abilities. CEO Mark Semler and the team at the Zucker Institute of Applied Neuroscience in Charleston helped make the invention a reality.

“The computer logs 20 parameters per eye—all these different subtleties about the blink reflex,” said Semler.

Through quick air bursts, the device measures the brain’s reaction time. Unlike other technology, this provides numbers.

“The brain really needs to come back to homeostasis in order to heal,” said Tsai. “When you don’t’ have a good homeostatic field, then it can’t recover completely.”

The data can help trainers helps evaluate and determine how long an athlete should sit out.

“This doesn’t have a light on it that says concussion, concussion, concussion,” said Semler. “It just gives you the numbers, it’s just like thermometer, it doesn’t tell you if you have a fever.”

While the extent of brain damage differs person-to-person, they’re working to determine a baseline, so the device can eventually be used in other parts of medicine.

“We don’t have the data but eventually we’ll have the data so first responders like an ambulance driver or a ski patrol could come up on someone that’s injured and determine that they’ve had a concussion,” said Semler.

The Blink Reflexometer is currently hauled around on a cart, but eventually, they’ll make it into a handheld device to use on the sidelines at both professional and high school sports.

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