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MN doctor's new test uses music videos to help diagnose concussions


Do you actually have a concussion?

It's actually a lot harder to diagnose than many people think – but now, a new test that involves watching music videos may help.

The unusual test – which measures brain activity by tracking eye movements – was developed by a Minnesota doctor at the Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) in Minneapolis along with New York University researchers.

According to a press release from HCMC, the test has patients sit down and watch a music video for 220 seconds while a tracking camera measures the way their eyes respond to what they see.

Depending on how a patient responds to the stimuli, they may or may not have suffered a brain injury.

The videos, in case you're wondering, "ranged from Disney’s "Puss in Boots" to "Wavin Flag" by K’Naan."

What the study found

The team, led by Dr. Dr. Uzma Samadan (a neurologist at HCMC and associate professor of neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota) and her colleagues, worked with hundreds of patients – some of whom were emergency room visitors with brain injuries – to test the new technology, the release says.

They found the method was much more accurate in classifying concussions than typical diagnostics, which often involve a doctor measuring a patient's thinking skills, such as memory and concentration, the Mayo Clinic says.

This is a far cry from tests that diagnose other conditions – like, say, cancer or having had a heart attack – which can be conclusively identified through cardiac catheterizations and other methods, the research team said.

Concussions, on the other hand, are much trickier, and one of the doctors involved in the study said there's no "gold standard" for identifying whether a patient has suffered such a brain injury.

The team's research is aimed at changing that.

"This (finding) may represent the first step in the development of a more exacting method of diagnosing and monitoring recovery from traumatic brain injury," said Dr. David Cifu, a brain injury specialist for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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