USAMMA Works with Software Company to Develop Concussion-Detecting App
The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, an element of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, has begun a collaborative research agreement with Contect, Inc., a software company working to develop a self-named mobile app that will provide a quick and simple way to detect concussions.
As a type of traumatic brain injury, a concussion can lead to severe brain damage if not treated properly. The USAMRMC focuses several of its efforts on preventing, diagnosing and treating TBI.
The agreement, generally used as a mechanism for two entities to begin a partnership in which both will benefit, provides Contect with a market for testing and evaluation where developers can use the results to improve the product. USAMMA will also provide project management support to Contect, which will aid the company in commercializing its product, including navigating the approval process with the Food and Drug Administration.
In return, researchers at the USAMMA have the opportunity to learn about a tool they could potentially deploy to a battlefield environment, where quick and simple methods save lives.
"We don't want to give the providers any more equipment than they're already carrying," said Michael Husband, chair of the Non-Invasive Neurodiagnostics integrated product team at USAMMA. "This could be a screening that doesn't add too much to the logistics chain.
With a product like an app, developers can bypass the typical logistics process used to get products in the hands of the end users, including prototyping. If developers find it necessary to update the product, they can more efficiently revise and re-field the app than any other type of product because the smartphone devices already exist, so the recreation of an entirely new product would not be necessary.
By quickly determining whether or not a Soldier has had a traumatic brain injury, facilitators can refer the Soldier to higher levels of care sooner, thus avoiding a more severe condition than he or she may have developed if not immediately diagnosed.
In the scenario of jump school, the app would capture the subjects' voice signals before jumping as a baseline and after jumping as a sample if they perceive an injury has occurred. The app would then compare low level acoustic metrics associated with each collection to determine if the subject has a concussion.
The first of its kind in app format to use solely voice analysis, Husband believes the product has great potential based on early studies involving college athletes.
"This tool has a lot of promise because of its potential to be used as part of an application. A lot of other products require some other hardware," said Husband. "I think we're going to see a lot more of applications for medical purposes."
After an approximate two-year process involving protocols, testing and analysis, if all goes as planned and the USAMMA's results reflect an accurate and useful product, the agency's researchers may seek additional avenues to collaborate with Contect on this innovative project.
"We're still in the early phases, but we see promise here and a company that has potential. We can provide the project management and share our data," said Husband. "We like this technology because of its ease of use, so we have interest in furthering the collaboration."