Professor tests validity of concussion technology

The University Star

February 6, 2020

Texas State’s CEREBRO concussion lab will begin testing the reliability of concussion benchmarking equipment in a new study in February.

The study will take place in Texas State’s CEREBRO concussion lab and will use the “BalanceBack” company’s videonystagmography (VNG) equipment. This equipment helps test and diagnose people experiencing dizziness or balance problems due to concussions or vestibular issues, problems residing in the inner ear or brain.

The goal of the study is to update and advance the information previously gathered with BalanceBack equipment. The previous information was sourced from a non-diverse crowd consisting of people with balance problems aged 65-95. A broader variety of accurate results would help clinics who use BalanceBack VNG equipment become more efficient at comparing different cases in order to more accurately gauge the severity of an injury.

Leah Kilchrist, graduate research assistant, said testing the validity of equipment is necessary to get proper results.

“We want to find out if the equipment is valid and reliable enough to be used in a clinical setting,” Kilchrist said. “We need to see if other people will be able to benefit from using it.”

Michael Kuo, graduate assistant athletic trainer, said gathering more data will help increase the productivity of the BalanceBack equipment.

“We want to provide value by collecting large enough data that we can use to help them compare to what a healthy person’s results look like,” Kuo said. “We can use our volunteers’ information as a standard for what ‘normal’ looks like. People who are injured will be able to see how they compare.”

The study’s team hopes to source accurate readings from a wide variety of people who are considered healthy. Age, weight, height and sex are all unique factors that can produce different results.

Director of the CEREBRO concussion lab Dr. Missy Fraser, assistant professor of athletic training, and her team are looking to find people of all types in the San Marcos and Texas State area for a volunteer-based study. People ages 18-85 living in San Marcos are eligible to volunteer in the BalanceBack study tests and are not required to be enrolled in Texas State.

The CEREBRO lab will put up fliers and send emails to the community with contact information and instructions on how to join the study. Volunteers will fill out a survey, disclose their past health history and then schedule their CEREBRO lab visit. Volunteers can choose to take the BalanceBack vision and balance tests once or participate in multiple tests with time in between. The lab can assist in calibrating the accuracy of the equipment with multiple tests taken by the same individuals.

Fraser said it is preferred that people test with the equipment multiple times.

“If we only test people once, we don’t know if we get the same answer we would’ve gotten if we had tested them multiple times,” Fraser said. “For any tests or equipment it would be really useful, clinically, to make sure that you test multiple times and get the same answer.”

Fraser and her team will only have access to the BalanceBack equipment for the month of February. Fraser is currently in talks with the BalanceBack company to extend the study’s time frame.

For more information on VNG tests visit Medline Plus.

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