SDSU-developed BTrackS concussion meter ready for market
Just how does a trainer on the sidelines during a football game determine if an athlete has suffered a concussion? And how does one assign severity to an assessed injury to comply with the established concussion protocols in effect? San Diego State University has come up with one answer.
Currently, the most common method of assessing the possibility of a concussive injury is by asking the athletic a standard list of questions that include their subjective feelings of dizziness and their ability to remember obvious facts such as their name, the year and the current situation they are in.
More advanced versions of the test will include having them balance themselves and having the person giving the test judge the players balance simply by eyesight. These tests, while helpful, may be gamed by the athletic in an effort to continue playing. In addition the conclusions reached by the test-giver concerning balance are still subjective.
Now, at SDSU, a group of biomechanical scientists and engineers have come up with a better way. BTrackS is the name given to the fast, less expensive, and more accurate device they have devised. Their new method will allow a trainer on the sidelines to determined, objectively, a potentially concussed player’s balance in order to gauge the likelihood of an actual concussion.
Their machine, which will fit into a small suitcase interfaces with a laptop and can be setup an available during the game. The subject athlete will stand upon a platform, close their eyes and try to balance. The device will capture mathematical data concerning the balance attempt, based on the three-dimensional movement detected.
A computer program they have written for this purpose will compile the feedback into a number that will give can be compared to tests taken for the same person prior to any injury. This provides a concrete, repeatable, consistent measurement of the probability the player being tested has a concussion.
The SDSU researchers hope to soon be granted an FDA (Food and Drug Administration) okay on the BTrackS as an approved Class I medical apparatus. This approval will clear the way for marketing the system to any and all programs where concussions are a potential occurence. In addition to the simplicity and consistency of the device, the group expects to be able to keep the cost below $1,000, ten times cheaper than any similar machines currently available.