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Real-time concussion detector seeking FDA approval before being used in wrestling headgear

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According to Chicago Business,Illinois-based NoMo Diagnosis are developing a real-time concussion detector. The company is trying to gain FDA approval for the the device with hopes that it will change the way concussions are diagnosed and treated.

Harald Stelzer, CEO of NoMo Diagnostics, is behind the project. He told Chicago Business that his device — headgear that houses sensitive instruments — is capable of monitoring brainwaves that are strong enough to be measured outside of the skull.

“The idea was to try to come up with an instantaneous measurement where you can fully automate how a neurologist would be looking at a brainwave pattern and having that — like a fire alarm — be the signal for a call to action.”

Stelzer’s device is still in the testing phase, but the hope is that the technology will be ready for markets in three years’ time. When complete, Stelzer imagines the technology being a feature that can be added to sports helmets and headgear.

NoMo’s device is not the first to attempt to track real-time impacts that are likely to result in concussion symptoms (also known as mild traumatic brain injuries or mTBIs). Previous devices have focused on reading head and helmet movement, since mTBIs are caused by both linear and rotational acceleration of the brain within the skull, which is what happens when the head violently jerks to the side or back and forth.

However, those previous designs did not have technology compact enough to monitor the actual electrical activity of the brain, especially while someone was playing a sport like football or hockey.

One of NoMo Diagnostics’ early investors is Bats-Toi, which manufactures a line of wrestling headgear known as The Mercado. Bats-Toi CEO Mario Mercado Jr., who was a former Division I wrestler at Syracuse, told Chicago Business he’s “a believer” in what Stelzer is trying to accomplish. “What they’re doing is revolutionary, and I’m glad that we as a company are sharing in this mission.”

Mercado is hoping to integrate the concussion detecting technology into his company’s wrestling headgear. NoMo’s design has also received investment from the Coulter Foundation at Columbia University and the National Security Innovation Network.

Along with being a useful tool to track concussions on wrestling mats, the technology could also be used in boxing/MMA headgear (for both sparring and amateur contests).

Instant detection of mTBIs would help make sure that athletes do not suffer multiple brain injuries in a single session or contest. Multiple concussions are thought to drastically raise the risk of someone developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). That disease, which manifests much like Alzhemier’s Disease, kills parts of the brain and causes symptoms such as dementia, impulsivity, depression, and suicidality.

The device would also better enable medical professionals to prescribe appropriate rest and activities for an athlete who is suffering concussion symptoms before signing off on them returning to training and competition.

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