Subclinical symptoms in brain injuries often go unnoticed and hence can cause long term damage that may be prevented with early medical intervention. Early diagnosis, especially in young athletes, is critical, but using expensive and heavy imaging devices like CT scanners on the sidelines is out of the question in most cases. Currently, simple tools like questionnaires and reaction tests are being used if there’s suspicion of injury, but they are prone to deception or bias by the athletes and are generally not sensitive.
Researchers at Notre Dame developed a new iPad tool that records an athlete’s voice before a match and then compares it to what it sounds like after a suspected injury. Specifically, the software looks for distorted vowels, hyper nasality and imprecise consonants to detect concussion.
From Notre Dame:
In testing that occurred during the Notre Dame Bengal Bouts and Baraka Bouts, annual student boxing tournaments, the researchers established baselines for boxers using tests such as the Axon Sports Computerized Cognitive Assessment Tool (CCAT), the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 2 (SCAT2) and the Notre Dame iPad-based reading and voice recording test.
During the 2012 Bengal Bouts, nine concussions (out of 125 participants) were confirmed by this new speech-based test and the University’s medical team. Separate tests of 80 female boxers were also conducted during the 2012 Baraka Bouts. Outcomes of the 2013 Bengal Bouts are currently being compared to the findings of the University medical team on approximately 130 male boxers.