Technology & Traumatic Brain Injury

It seems that every aspect of life has been impacted by technology, and the field of traumatic brain injury is certainly no different. This should be apparent from some of the information that we have provided on this web site about brain injury. Notably, the area of contemporary or advanced neuroimaging has been revolutionized by technology. Such technology has afforded clinicians the ability to identify brain injury and tailor early therapeutic interventions calculated to aide in recovery. Contemporary neuroimaging has also provided a basis for differentiating between structural damage and symptoms that may not be related to acquired brain injury, including psychiatric/psychological responses to trauma, or perhaps, the manifestation of pre-existing emotional problems. The technology also affords the opportunity to identify cases with co-morbidities that include structural damage. Interestingly, advanced neuroimaging has also offered therapeutic benefit to brain injury patients. Imagine being diagnoses with traumatic brain injury and having your life turned upside down because of symptoms, but you can’t “see” the injury. In litigation, the defense always doubts that you have a brain injury and often hires witnesses to say “you suffer from a mental disorder, and it wasn’t caused by the accident.” That would be awfully distressing. Technology can help erase those doubts.

Advances in technology are not solely the province of the health care industry. Widespread use of “Smart Phones” with “apps” also affords the opportunity for patients, families and others to serve those people affected by or who are at risk for acquired brain injury including concussion.

For example, the app “It’s Done!” uses check lists and text messages or emails to communicate that important tasks are completed. The text messages can be sent to family members or those providing assistance with such tasks as turning off the stove, locking the door and taking medication, indicating that they have been completed.

Another app that’s useful for parents and coaches is “The Concussion Recognition & Response App.” This app can be used by parents and coaches to assist in recognizing whether an athlete or a child is either reporting or exhibiting signs and/or symptoms consistent with concussion. The app uses a progressive set of questions that are derived from the Center for Disease Control’s publication “Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports.” This app, while designed for sports injuries, can also be used to monitor a child at home, following suffering a concussion in a fall or accident including a car accident, by using the “Home Symptom Monitoring” function. The data can also be emailed to a health provider to provide a good symptom summary just after the injury occurs.

The Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation, Inc. has been instrumental in developing the FINR Brain Atlas App. This app is an educational tool for everyone, except perhaps those who qualify as medical experts in the field of brain injury and brain anatomy. The app affords the capability of exploring the anatomy of the brain and common brain injuries and presents images in three dimensions. Relatively detailed descriptions of the structures of the brain, normal functions of those structures, and common injuries affecting those structures can be found. The app also provides a summary of the types of deficits that can result from damage to various brain structures. Injuries described include aneurysm, anoxic/hypoxic encephalopathy, cerebral contusion, cerebral infarction/stroke, diffuse axonal injury (DAI), intraventricular hemorrhage, penetrating head wound, subarachnoid hemorrhage and subdural hematoma.

A more thorough list of Apps that may be of great assistance to patients with acquired brain injury can be found at the BrainLine web site. There you will find “27 Life-Changing iPhone and iPad Apps for People with Brain Injury” and “20 Life-Changing Android Apps for People with Brain Injury“.

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