Two huge guys with helmets crush into each other, and one is slow to get up. It’s a common scene every fall on American television. It’s no secret that American football players are prone to injury, and one of the most common injuries is a concussion. A new technology from the eye-tracking company SyncThink is providing a means for evaluation and diagnosis that has previously been a struggle.
The great difficulty with concussions is that they are extremely hard to diagnose. There are a number of complex metrics that can determine the existence and severity of a concussion, but the process can be time consuming. During a game, it’s critical that the player with a concussion not reenter the game and risk further injury.
This is where the new technology from SyncThink comes into play. The company has spent five years developing a VR headset that tracks eye movement and response time in order to determine if a player has a concussion, and can even evaluate the severity of the concussion. Such technology can easily and quickly produce a diagnosis without doctors or arbitrary measurements. Objectivity is hard to find in concussion medicine, but the VR headset could provide it.
It’s a simple solution. A player gets injured, and comes off the field. The team doctor simply pops the headset on the player, and has them walk through a one minute eye movement and tracking test. The data from the test is evaluated via cloud connection, and the headset alerts the player and doctor that a head injury has occurred. The entire process takes less than one minute, and the player and doctor have an objective standard to determine if the player should reenter the game. It’s fast, simple, and profoundly useful.
The company was founded by Dr. Jamshid Ghajar, who is also the head of the Stanford Concussion and Brain Performance Center. The company representative said, “SyncThink develops revolutionary eye-tracking technology products, now in VR headsets, that give medical professionals objective metrics for visual attention. Based on 15 years of research, SyncThink’s first product, Eye-Sync, is a 60-second, objective sideline assessment that uses eye tracking to evaluate for ocular motor impairments and vestibular balance dysfunction – the two most common and serious components of a concussion.”
The company sees the solution as a must-have for most college and professional sports teams where contact between players is common. Not only in football, but also rugby, soccer, and even applications in lacrosse and ice hockey. Because of the complex nature of concussions, the solution would save time, and likely medical cost and lives. Beyond sports, the company sees applications in other medical fields. The representative said, “Eye-Sync is also used in the clinical setting at hospitals and doctors’ offices, as well as by the government in many capacities.”