Each year there are nearly four million concussions among sports players in the US according to government data.
Half go undetected.
So now there’s a new app in the works that looks to change that by using your smart phone to detect pupil reaction.
Pupilscreen out of the University of Washington measures pupil size to detect brain trauma using your smartphone light and camera.
The app is still in its testing phase, but it’s significant because despite all we know now about concussions, there’s no medical device or scan that can yet diagnose one.
Betty Christopher’s daughter got a concussion years ago in cheerleading, and she’s seen too many horror stories not to be concerned for her grandson.
“We had a friend whose child had a concussion and they didn’t know it and then he kept playing for a couple more games and he was only in the 8th grade and he’s now in 10th grade and he’s still suffering.”
Undiagnosed, players are 6 times more likely to suffer another one.
Players who are hurt but also but also determined to get back into the game, may know the questions that doctors will be asking them on the sidelines. So the Pupilscreen app is designed to give a diagnosis that’s less subjective.
A recent small scale study shows it successfully diagnosed brain trauma victims, by accurately separating them from healthy subjects.
Dr. John Lucas at Spartanburg Regional’s Sports Medicine Institute says it’s promising, but does raise questions.
“The concept of pupil reaction basically makes sense. I would want to know, does everybody with a concussion have some type of difference within their pupil reflex. And I just don’t think we know that today,” said Dr. Lucas.
Other apps, like the CDC’s Head’s Up, already help with prevention.
And Athletic Director’s like Tony Gillespie at Burns High School says devices like the Gaurdian Cap, have really paid off.
“In our past 5-6 years, we’ve averaged less than 1 concussion per year with football. Before that we were 2-3 sometimes 4 per year,” he said.
Christopher, is just relieved there’s so much focus on both prevention and detection, and hopeful the technology is up to speed by the time her grandson gets in the game.