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Research uses eye movements to detect brain injury

Louisiana residents who incur a traumatic brain injury may not be diagnosed immediately, but research presented at the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance conference suggests there may be a timely way to diagnose this type of injury. A study funded by a NASA affiliate looked at the connection between elevated intracranial pressure and eye movement. Because astronauts suffer cognitive and visual problems that mimic ICP, the organization wanted a way to quickly diagnose the difficulty. According to the research, this can be done with eye tracking.

The study used a patented device known as the EyeBOX that showed a music video to patients along with a square that moved around a computer screen. The device tracked involuntary eye movements, so it was not necessary for a participant to be able to follow instructions. It found that when ICP was elevated, the effect on nerve function in the brain happened almost immediately afterward.

The study did not require a baseline since the eyes of almost 99 percent of people move together. Researchers hope that the new diagnostic tool will mean that people who suffer from concussions and traumatic brain injuries get a diagnosis and treatment much sooner.

Brain injuries may happen in a car accident, while playing a sport, as the result of a fall or because of another type of blow to the head. One issue with both treatment and liability is that it may be weeks or months before the severity of a brain injury is understood because of delayed symptoms. A person who suffers a head injury in a motor vehicle collision that was caused by the negligence of another motorist may want to talk to an attorney about how to best document the accident and symptoms in order to use it as evidence when attempting to obtain compensation from the at-fault driver.

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