April 06, 2020
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Eye-tracking technology can help determine TBI severity

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Technology used to track vertical smooth pursuit helped diagnose moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury in a recent study published in Concussion.

“People who suffer moderate-to-severe concussions end up finding it difficult to visually follow things that move up and down. In studying this, we’ve found a correlation between [vertical smooth pursuit] impairment and concussion severity, which can easily be tracked using RightEye’s Brain Health EyeQ” Melissa Hunfalvay, MD, study co-author and co-founder and chief science officer of RightEye, said in a press release from RightEye.

In the study, researchers used variance and smooth pursuit to assess eye movements associated with smooth pursuit. They defined smooth pursuit percentage as the amount of time spent performing a smooth pursuit with appropriate dispersion and velocity throughout a test.

Investigators compared differences in vertical smooth pursuit (VSP) between participants without TBI (n = 69) and those with TBI (n = 23). They evaluated participants with TBI by severity level: mild TBI, moderate TBI and severe TBI.

Participants were between 11 and 79 years old and most were men (n = 49) and white (70.65%). Those with TBI had sustained their head injuries within 30 days prior to testing.

Using the Brain Health EyeQ system, researchers asked participants to track a white dot at a rate of 25.13 degrees per second starting from the center of the screen. The dot then moved up and down in a straight line.

Investigators considered participants to be “on target” if they followed the dot within an error of 2.4 degrees and as “following” if they were within an error of 4.8 degrees.

Results showed that the VSP test could discern between severe and moderate TBI but not between mild TBI and healthy controls.

“Other metrics, such as horizontal and vertical saccades, are able to distinguish even [mild TBI] from control groups; however, these eye movements are controlled by different brain regions,” the researchers wrote.

Hunfalvay and colleagues concluded that “the RightEye eye-tracking diagnostic tool at the center of this study is capable of measuring a number of metrics pertinent to TBI and has the potential to serve as a very useful adjunct to existing TBI symptoms detection methods.” – Kaitlin McGee

Disclosures: Hunfalvay is employed by RightEye. Please see the full study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.