For years, doctors have been routinely tracking their patients’ hand-eye coordination to detect any neuromuscular deficits, particularly as patients age or when they are injured. But these tests have always been subjective and qualitative.
To mitigate this problem once and for all, researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Hebrew SeniorLife Boston (BIDMC), took time and pooled in all the resources they could amass.
They have currently completed the first clinical study of a new rapid neuro assessment device they developed to quantitatively measure neuromuscular performance and has named it NeuroAssess.
NeuroAssess is a simple app for a touchscreen tablet that can more systematically perform neuromotor assessment. A circle on the screen has a block sliding along its circumference and the user must use a stylus to follow along.
The tablet records the path of the stylus and provides a score based on how far it deviated from the moving block. The team envisions a day when this technology might be used on the playing field and in doctor’s offices worldwide.
Now that the baseline data have been collected from the healthy population of study subjects, the next goal is to determine NeuroAssess‘ potential to become a quantitative assessment tool for groups of people with neuromuscular pathologies, such as those who suffered concussions or have multiple sclerosis.
The team is currently conducting a study with athletes in the Boston area to determine the sensitivity of the technology in diagnosing concussions.
The work was funded by the Wyss Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Charitable Foundation, and the James S. McDonnell Foundation.