BRAIN HEALTH - Cortical Metrics - Evolution


Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) are the Health Issue of our Time

Typically, a web page about an injury or disease condition would begin with a clear statement of the number of people afflicted with the condition and the total cost to society.  But brain injury has emerged as the great hidden health concern of modern times precisely because its prevalence has been vastly underestimated, and the social cost marginalized in service to the many agendas and special interest groups that believe that human health and suffering are subordinate to the needs of entertainment, tradition, organizational success and profit.  Sadly, we can not even begin to accurately estimate the number of people afflicted with asymptomatic brain injuries, and as a result the coherent identification of risk factors and corrective measures is nearly impossible.  In the past few years, social awareness about the widespread prevalence and long-term impact to individuals and society of the whole range of brain injuries has brought enormous pressure to bear on industries and organizations that promulgate activities that are known to lead to debilitating brain injury, such as contact sports, the military, even normal daily activities such as play, transport in vehicles, environmental exposure to noise and vibration, and slip-and-fall injuries at home and in the workplace.
To get a handle on this emerging problem, we first need a reliable set of clinical tools to detect, diagnose, measure and classify injuries to the brain.  Unfortunately, there is almost no good place to start.  There are currently no good clinical tools available for diagnosing concussion and mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), and these injuries tend to accumulate with repeated exposure.  Undetected brain injury can progress without symptoms until severe and irreversible damage has been done.  To successfully address the whole range of circumstances that contribute to the problem of brain injury, to develop counter-measures in our work and play and living environments to prevent and minimize brain injury, and then to build a set of effective clinical tools to treat brain injury, first we need to be able to reliably detect brain injury, especially in its subclinical early stages where symptoms are subtle or are not evident even upon detailed examination.

Is Medical Imaging the Answer?

The short answer is NO.  Unless the physical damage to the brain is extensive, there is no medical imaging technology that can detect the injury reliably.  Most importantly, brain injury first shows itself as changes in the dynamic functional relationships between areas of the brain that work together, not necessarily as physical lesions in the brain tissue itself that can be visualized.  If any form of modern medical imaging had any promise it would have come to the forefront during the past decade of intensive research to find effective diagnostic tools for brain injury.  But despite the best efforts of many large and small organizations, including the United States Department of Defense, the NFL, General Electric, countless major research universities and hospitals, not a single type of medical imaging has proven to be effective and practical for the early detection of brain injury, mTBI, and concussion.

How about behavioral tests or simple computer based surveys?

These have been developed and studied for well over a decade and the jury is in: they don't really work.  In some cases their ability to detect brain injury is worse than a coin flip, yielding inaccurate results in some cases more than 80% of the time.  There is a lot of money involved in the head injury business, so people and organizations that base their business on this form of simplistic testing will tell you otherwise, but they have had many years to produce tangible results .... and they have failed to do so.

A New and Effective Approach:  Cortical Metrics and Brain Gauge

Cortical Metrics LLC was founded by Prof. Mark Tommerdahl and Prof. Bob Dennis in 2007 as a spin-out of the UNC School of Medicine.  The technology is based on somatosensory testing, using the ability of the cortex to filter, amplify, and interpret sensations of touch on the somatosensory cortex.  Unlike massive medical imaging installations that require long periods of time to generate images at great cost, which must be interpreted by specialized experts, Cortical Metrics technology is simple to use, portable, inexpensive, and fast.  A quick result is available within 4 to 5 minutes, and a comprehensive battery of tests can be completed in under 20 minutes.  With detection accuracy in many cases well above 90%, Cortical Metrics technology has emerged as the accepted standard for the highly sensitive, portable, inexpensive, simple-to-use and reliable detection of brain injury.

Cortical Metrics LLC incorporates Micro-Pulse actuator and control technology to quantify and monitor brain health.  A radically new somatosensory approach to brain health assessment, Cortical Metrics systems are more than 1000 times more sensitive than the most advanced imaging systems at detecting brain injury.  The core technology has been adopted as the new and only standard for the development of brain health assessment following concussion or mTBI by the United States Navy and USMC.  Several nations are currently evaluating Cortical Metrics technology as potential new standard of care for assessing brain injury, neuro-developmental and neuro-degenerative disease, and overall cortex health.

The founder of Micro-Pulse LLC, Robert Dennis (LinkedIn profile), is also a co-founder of Cortical Metrics LLC.

Cortical Metrics LLC and Micro-Pulse LLC have teamed up to develop BrainGauge, with a military version for the US Navy and USMC for use in forward battalion aid stations, as well as a commercial version with backing from General Electric and the NFL.  BrainGauge technology won Round I of the 2014 GE-NFL Head Health Challenge., and is also currently being developed as a low-cost consumer product for in-home use.

The Brain Gauge has been used test the effects of ICES-PEMF on TBI and concussion

For research collaborations and support, contact Dr. Mark Tommerdahl
For information on products under development contact, please visit the BrainGauge and Cortical Metrics web pages
For licensing and product development opportunities, contact Dr. Robert Dennis or Dr. Mark Tommerdahl