Understanding the brain’s pulse shows promise for managing concussion

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An article published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine — “Detection of Concussion Using Cranial Accelerometry” by Paul S Auerbach, Jennifer G Baine, Megan L Schott, Amy Greenhaw, Monika G Acharya and Wade S Smith — has shown that the Jan Medical Nautilus BrainPulse technology has detected a consistent pattern correlated with concussion. This paper provides the first indication that the measurement of brain motion due to pulsatile blood flow can detect physiological changes in the brain correlated with concussion. Out of 84 players enrolled in the Stanford University Medical School Institutional Review Board-approved protocol, BrainPulse detected 10 out of 13 confirmed concussions for a 77% sensitivity; and 79 out of 91 recordings were confirmed to not have a concussion for an 87% specificity.

Paul Lovoi, founder and chief executive officer of Jan Medical, states, “While these findings are very encouraging, additional trials will be necessary to establish this technology as an objective measure of concussion, studies that we are currently undertaking.”

 


The study was conducted at a Northern California high school over the course of one football season involving the majority of both the varsity and junior varsity players. All the players were recorded with the BrainPulse at the beginning of the season prior to any potentially concussive contact. Over the course of the season, SCAT2 (Sports Concussion Assessment Tool) was used to assist in the clinical determination of concussion. “This new discovery holds promise to provide a more objective measure of concussion so as to allow a safer return to play and the protection of our youth in contact sports,” says Wade Smith, vice chair of Neurology at UCSF.

 


The brain has a normal pulse driven by the cardiac cycle. The impact of this pulse on the skull can in turn be detected and measured. The Nautilus BrainPulse from Jan Medical is designed to measure the normal brain pulse as well as disruptions of the brain pulse. By digitising the signal patterns from headset-mounted sensors measuring the skull’s motion, and extracting features from them, algorithms can be developed to identify normal and a variety of abnormal brain pulse patterns. The BrainPulse sensors passively measure the skull in recording sessions that take approximately three minutes to conduct. The entire device itself is portable and provides analysis immediately once the recording session is complete. Lovoi adds, “We see evidence that our technology can contribute to a wide range neurological deficits.”

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