Brain injury breakthrough: New app could SPOT symptoms of concussion after a fall

A new app could help identify concussion or other brain injuries following a fall.

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed technology that could look into the pupil of an elderly person's eye - the black centre - to identify an issue..

The app, called PupilScreen, uses a smartphone's video camera to lim for changes in the eye's response to light.

Around one in three adults over the age of 65 in the UK will suffer at least one fall a year, according to the NHS.

This is because with increasing age people may develop balance problems and muscle weakness.

As well as bone fractures, there is a risk of concussion from falling.

This is a temporary injury to the brain that causes symptoms including a headache, dizziness, vomiting, confusion and memory loss.

Pupillary light reflex - where the pupil changes in size - has long been used to assess severe traumatic brain injury.

Recent research suggests it could also help diagnose mild concussion.

The app enlists the smartphone's flash to stimulate the eyes and uses the video camera to record a three-second video. 

Changes in pupil size is then measured.

In the new study, brain injuries were identified with almost perfect accuracy using the app alone. 

The researchers next plan to allow medical professionals to test the app as part of a new study.

They hope it could become commercially available within two years.

Until now there has been no certain way to diagnose a concussion, with doctors having to rule out worst case scenarios like a brain bleed or skull fracture first.

“PupilScreen aims to fill that gap by giving us the first capability to measure an objective biomarker of concussion in the field,” said Lynn McGrath, co-study author from the University of Washington.