One of the hot-button controversies in all-levels of sports right now is the danger of head injuries. With the increase in numbers of kids and teens taking part in sports, the rate of concussions reported in 2012 was nearly four million individual cases, which has nearly doubled in a ten-year period. Interestingly, the same study reported that in nearly 90% of the cases of diagnosed concussion, the patient never lost consciousness; that leads experts to think that the numbers of cases is actually far higher than reported, as many victims do not seek medical help following a head injury, if there is no obvious sign of trauma.
The controversy comes in the nature of the sports that lead to head injuries. With more students and children playing at elite levels than ever before (or striving to get there), often spurred on by their parents, there’s a strong sentiment among sports physicians that children are being pushed into higher levels of competition and practice regimens than they’re physically and developmentally prepared for. There’s also an increased fear that athletes at all levels are resuming practice and play before they’re ready, mostly due to lack of diagnosis of a concussion.
Now, a new piece of software can help doctors diagnose a concussion more accurately and without the waiting game to see if the typical symptoms appear (as they often do not). Called Neuro Vision and developed with a company called RightEye, the technology tracks eye movement rather than relying on CT scans or MRIs, which are costly and only show brain bleeding or swelling. By having the patient perform a far more sophisticated version of the usual test of following the doctor’s finger with their eyes, the software then determines the affectedness the patient is currently experiencing. It’s invaluable for helping doctors and patients determine the severity of the concussion and the amount of time needed before normal activity is safe.
While Neuro Vision is getting a lot of attention in the world of sports, optometrists and neurologists are actually more excited about the possibilities associated with helping stroke patients, diagnosing learning disabilities, and having a more technologically-based assessment tool for plain old-fashioned vision testing.