Approximately 280,000 troops have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), whether through training or through combat — and that number is likely way higher.
Military doctors have told Business Insider that many go unreported because they only qualify as “mild” and troops think nothing of it, that is until wives call the hospital reporting their husbands’ (or visa versa) trouble remembering simple shopping lists.
Identifying the injury may have become a bit easier though.
Think of it like a roadside sobriety test, from Tech Review:
Previous studies have found that head injuries change speech characteristics, with negative effects on vowel production in particular. The researchers initially tested the app with 125 boxers participating in a collegiate competition. Before any bouts started, the researchers recorded each boxer saying the numbers one through nine as a baseline. After boxing, the researchers recorded the athletes saying the same words again.
So if vowels mush together or slur, doctors will have an indicator.
If it works out, regular verbal screaning would be a whole lot easier than just waiting for patients to come in complaining of headaches, forgetfulness or, worse, violent outbursts.
The tests were done in the context of sports, in specific youth football. The NFL recently teamed up with the Department of Defence though to address TBIs though, so rest assured, the technology would likely be shared.
The researchers will move on to a larger test — of 1000 subjects — and told Tech Review if it works, they plan to then market the app commercial through a start up called Contect.
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