Smartphone tool helps detect brain injury in soldiers on the front line

A new federally approved device aims to provide faster and more accurate traumatic brain injury (TBI) diagnosis for military service personnel on the battlefield.

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the combat-ready TBI diagnostic tool features disposal sensors and a headset working off an Android smartphone. The device assesses and measures brain electric activity and analyzes the data using TBI-specific algorithms, according to a post at Armed With Science, a U.S. Defense Department blog.

"What we're looking for [on the front lines] is something that measures the actual function of the brain, other than just asking people some questions," Army Col. Dallas Hack, the director of combat casualty care for the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command at Fort Detrick, Maryland, says in the post.

The device, being developed with BrainScope, provides battlefield medics more specific insight on whether an injured soldier requires care off the front lines.

The tool is just the latest effort by federal military agencies to tap mobile devices and applications for healthcare. For instance, last month the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs began testing two mobile apps aimed at helping patients gain deeper healthcare data insight through integration with the agency's VistA electronic health record system. In addition, mobile messaging as part of medical recovery treatment has been proven effective for boosting rehabilitation efforts for injured military personnel and helping soldiers re-integrate following service.

While the new device takes less than 15 minutes to use, the article notes that it is not intended to replace CT scans but will be an additional tool.

For more information:
- read the blog post