A company called BrainScope, from Chesterfield, MO, is working on developing a portable device to identify potential cases of brain injury from shocks to the head. The company is currently working with the NCAA on developing a strategy to evaluate the effectiveness of the device. The device is not without a controversy:
BrainScope employs an old and somewhat controversial technology called qEEG (quantitative electroencephalogram). Originally developed in the 1930s, qEEG later grew popular among New Age clinics. Some still say it can be used to diagnose and treat learning disabilities and depression. Such claims have never been fully substantiated. Many neurologists are still skeptical when they hear about approaches like BrainScope’s. “This sounds like a promising tool, but who knows if it will be useful once it’s put through its paces?” asks Howard Rosen, a neurologist at the University of California at San Francisco. Neurologists today often use costly MRI exams to spot concussions.
BrainScope CEO Elvir Causevic was well aware of questions surrounding qEEG, so he sought the advice of 30 leading brain experts before the company started developing its first product in 2003. The result was a tool that’s cheap and simple enough to be used on the sidelines. Rather than producing hard-to-decipher squiggly lines, the BrainScope device displays a meter, which shows whether brain activity after an injury falls in or out of the danger zone. Built-in signal-processing technology picks up abnormal brain signals, while simultaneously canceling out electrical noise from blinking, breathing, and the like. The device calculates the severity of each injury by comparing brain wave readings to a database of 15,000 scans compiled at New York University’s Brain Research Lab.