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Doctors say they can detect brain injury while patients watches TV

Music videos may seem like frivolous entertainment to some people in Pittsburgh, and a way for musicians to express themselves visually to others. But few of our readers might have guessed that these videos may have an important medical function.

Diagnosing a brain injury can be difficult, but one potential symptom is difficulty moving the eyes, if the nerves that control the victim’s eye movements are affected. Researchers at New York University say that a tool they have developed can detect reduced range of optic motion in head injury victims.

The developers of this tool had 169 veterans volunteer to watch a music video or a TV program for three and a half minutes. The subjects all had abnormal brain scans, but 12 of them had problems moving their eyes up and down or side to side, due to nerve damage or brain swelling next to those nerves.

The tool showed that the healthy subjects’ eyes moved horizontally about as often as they moved vertically while following a music video or TV show. The tool was able to detect which subjects had eye problems. The scientists behind the study believe that this could pave the way to an early detection method of concussions and other brain injuries.

This could make a big difference in the treatment of brain injuries from auto accidents or other serious incidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says brain trauma is the leading cause of death and disability for Americans under age 35. Overall, 1.4 million people suffer a traumatic brain injury.

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