The US Military has invented a new mobile app that will help medical professionals detect traumatic brain injuries in the field. But could this program ever make its way to civilian use?
Military doctors have created an application called the Defense Automated Neurobehavioral Assessment (DANA), which operates on a variety of mobile platforms. The app is “like a brain thermometer” according to Lt. Col. Chessley Atchison, program manager for the Technology Enabled Capability Demonstration: Brain in Combat portfolio of the Combat Casualty Care Research Program. It has recently received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means army units can start using the smartphone app in the field very soon.
The US military is no stranger to traumatic brain injury. In 2013, servicemen and women suffered more than 27,000 cases of TBI – almost three times the number of cases in the year 2000.
The app will help medical professionals with on-the-spot brain injury diagnoses by comparing patients’ ability to complete on-screen exercises quickly and accurately. That reaction time can help medical professionals detect concussions, dementia, post-traumatic stress, depression, and fatigue.
But in order to work, the patient’s results have to measured against a baseline taken before the triage event. For soldiers, who go through extensive physical examinations, a 45 minute baseline assessment may not be a problem. But the requirement of an individual baseline may prevent DANA from making the jump from military to civilian life.
Early detection in brain injury cases is key to preventing secondary injuries and reducing the impact of the injury on a person’s daily life. On-site diagnosis tools like DANA could substantially improve the outcome of traumatic brain injuries for today’s military soldiers. But its use of individual baselines could keep this powerful tool out of the hands of civilian doctors and first responders for a long time to come.
David Christensen is a brain injury expert at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He and his team represent brain injury patients and help them get benefits from their insurance companies so they can focus on their recovery. If you or someone you know has suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of a car accident, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.