Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Smartphone App Detects Concussions on the Field

Just in time for the fall sports season, researchers are developing an AI-powered app that detects concussions right on the playing field. Despite grabbing recent headlines, football players aren’t the only ones at risk. Girls soccer has the highest rate of concussions per player. Basketball, wrestling, volleyball, lacrosse — in just about any sport, players can suffer brain injuries.

In the U.S. alone, as many as 45 million kids play sports, and 1 million to 2 million of them suffer concussions annually. A number of widely publicized studies of professional and amateur football players link multiple concussions to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative neurological disease. Brain injuries can also cause cognitive problems and, sometimes, death. Despite these hazards, there’s been no surefire way to diagnose a concussion outside a hospital, says Alex Mariakakis, a fifth-year doctoral student at the University of Washington. So Mariakakis invented one. Working with a team of UW researchers and clinicians, he is using GPU-accelerated deep learning to create an app that detects concussions and other traumatic brain injuries with nothing more than a smartphone camera and 3D-printed box.