The US Department of Defense is mulling using smartphone-based diagnosis tools to detect traumatic brain injuries in soldiers on the battlefield. According to a post on its “Armed with Science” blog, the DoD is working with Bethesda, Maryland-based Brainscope to put its FDA-cleared Ahead 200 device into real-world action.
At the moment, the process of establishing the presence of a traumatic brain injury involves the usage of CT scanners, which are too big to be easily transported outside of the hospital. This makes the job of medics on the battlefield that much harder as they have to resort to asking questions about immediately obvious symptoms like headaches, nausea and light sensitivity.
Brainscope’s Ahead 200 device doesn’t replace the CT Scan, but it does provide an in-between solution that’s much more portable and practical to use outside of a hospital. It consists of a headpiece with a number of EEG leads that connect to an Android smartphone, which runs the diagnostic software. It’s FDA-cleared for prescription use by trained medical professionals only.
“[The device] will be very useful in the field, to be able to know whether it’s worth everybody’s risk to actually evacuate this person somewhere and get that CT scan or not,” Army Col. Dallas Hack, the director of combat casualty care for the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command at Fort Detrick, Maryland, told Armed with Science.
The Department of Defense has dabbled in mHealth for a number of years, though mostly via its agency, the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2). T2 has released more than 20 apps thus far, including a biofeedback app, a mood tracker, an app for managing PTSD, and an app to help cope with stress using breathing exercises.