This Technology Could Transform the NFL’s Concussion Protocol

Football injuries happen in almost every game. But when serious ones like concussions occur, people notice. The NFL formed its concussion protocol for this reason. Each year, the league must evaluate the policies and revise them to be even better. However, despite having several visual spotters watching every play, weaknesses surface.

We know concussions have serious side effects for the athletes, so how can they get spotted more efficiently to prevent further damage to the player? That’s where new technology called Eye-Sync comes in.

What is the Eye-Sync and how does it work?

For years, doctors tried to diagnose concussions by tracking eye movements. They would move a finger back and forth and have the patient follow the finger using their eyes. If a brain injury had occurred, then the person’s eyes would jump around as they tried to track the finger. The problem was, it was a pretty primitive test and not very reliable.

This method was the only one available until neurosurgeon Jam Ghajar began working on a device that detects brain injuries. The unit is called the Eye-Sync, and it uses VR technology, the same kind of headset that gamers use today.

Using special light mechanics, Eye-Sync administers several tests to the person suspected of a brain injury. Embedded infrared cameras track the movements of the pupils as the person uses the headset. If it identifies certain erratic movements, they know a concussion occurred. Care will be given right away to prevent further damage to the brain.

What schools and football leagues will use it?

In 2016, the FDA cleared the Eye-Sync for use. Since then, the NBA started utilizing it to determine levels of fatigue before playing in a game. College football teams are getting on board with this new technology, too. The University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, as well as the University of Texas, implemented the device for their college football games.

Some of the Pac-12 conference football teams are also signing up for it. This would include schools like UCLA and USC. Stanford, where Ghajar works as a professor in the Neurosurgery department, will also implement the Eye-Sync.

Should the NFL start using the Eye-Sync?

The company behind the Eye-Sync has been in talks with the NFL about the technology. However, as of publication, the league has not come on board. We know that, in recent years, the NFL has more diligently monitored players who suffer concussions. They continue to provide and enforce strict regulations to prevent the long-term effects of concussions.

Since the Eye-Sync helps diagnose brain injuries quickly, the NFL would benefit from using it as part of the concussion protocol. In the past, many NFL players have returned to the field with no concussion tests done at all. The most famous example may be quarterback Russell Wilson in 2017. On another occasion, the league cleared a player who later showed signs of a brain injury.

The Eye-Sync proves to be an essential element of the fight against the long-term effects of concussions. Let’s hope the NFL makes this device mandatory in football games.