Brain damage in sports is often referred to by doctors as “The Invisible Injury”; diagnosis relying solely on visual and verbal tests, often performed on the sidelines by a distracted coach and received by a player eager to bypass their injury and get back into the game. But what if there was a reliable technology that could provide immediate results with the information necessary to diagnose brain trauma before it’s too late? With the help of Cyth Systems, the client is making advancements to diagnose injuries like these quicker and to ensure athletes get the care they need.
The purpose of the client’s device is to make the diagnosis of traumatic brain injuries more reliable, quicker, and easier to administer. When one goes to a hospital, or a more controlled setting, it's easier to diagnosis whether someone has a serious brain injury because the doctor can sit them down and execute a variety of scans and tests. But if someone were to be hit on the head while on a court and the coach wanted to know if they were injured or not, you either must ask them and trust what they say (which if they're an athlete they'll most likely want to keep playing) or you must take them out of the game completely. Reaction to the traditional reflex tests are inconsistent and unreliable. This client’s approach is to create a system where you could reliably know if the person has a traumatic brain injury or not, this would then be the deciding factor on whether you must completely take them out of the game.
The client wanted a system that administers a scan, compares it to a baseline “healthy” scan they have on file, and then state if the main indicators of a brain injury they've identified are in or out of a healthy range, all within a matter of minutes. Beyond professional sports, this has many applications for use like college athletics and summer camps that have a need for on-site brain injury diagnosis.
For this project, Cyth needed to write and integrate vision acquisition software for a system consisting of an ultra-compact PC, cameras, and lensing with the purpose of delivering application-specific test results to the operator.
The device Cyth help create is a portable biological response scanner, capable of use anywhere, including the field, ambulance, office or hospital, and can enable emergency medical technicians to definitively determine whether there has been a traumatic brain injury within a mere few minutes. It scans and compares the biological responses of the patient’s behavioral response to determine if there are conditions present that are symptomatic of brain trauma.
The patient places their head into the image acquisition system while the test operator watches a preview window on an external display. A 25 second scan is conducted and after a Basler camera acquires the images, the necessary data is run through the client’s custom algorithm for determinative results. The results are then compared against a healthy baseline and stored to a private portal to track results in greater detail and maintain patient history.
The main challenge faced in this project was maintaining consistency of the variables within the system to ensure that the scans performed were always accurate. Poor lighting in the machine casted shadows which would throw off the results of the initial scan. Angling the lights or adjusting the brightness would be different depending on the geometry of the patient’s face inside, so different facial structures would yield different responses to the lighting and scan. By utilizing some of Cyth’s Certified Vision Professionals, Cyth was able to create a lighting set-up that could give consistent lighting across a patient’s face, no matter their facial structure. The lights now fit inside the enclosure and can run at an exposure rate low enough to maintain an accurate frame rate while not utilizing too much power, ensuring that the entire device remains portable and can solely run on batteries.
Traumatic brain injuries are among the most fatal sports injuries, yet they are often least detected. With so much ambiguity in traditional verbal or visual tests, it’s easy to miss a potentially deadly injury while an athlete jumps back into the game. This technology will not only make brain damage diagnosis easier, quicker and more reliable, but it also has the potential to save lives. Cyth was eager to help this client create a device that will revolutionize the sports medicine industry.
Two greyscale Basler cameras (8 bit, 800x600 resolution)
Intel Nuc (Core i7, Two USB3 ports, Windows OS)
GPIO – the camera needed to be hardware triggered since the timing is crucial for this application
LabVIEW 2017 64-bit – for 6GB of video on memory