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New tool helps doctors analyze concussions

By Ashley Kewish   |  Posted Apr 18th, 2014 @ 10:42pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — The saccadometer is a new-to-Utah medical instrument that is revolutionizing the way doctors analyze possible concussions.

Ryan Shannon is taking a test, but it’s not one that requires a paper and pencil. Instead, her eyes are following a series of projected lasers on the wall.

The saccadometer measures her rapid eye movement and relays results in real time.

"When something shows up in our visual fields, we should be able to spot it pretty quickly," said Dr. Kenneth Oliver. "With concussions, that just doesn't happen."

Ryan suffered two concussions in less than two months while playing lacrosse for her high school team.

"I couldn't focus on anything," she said. "School was really hard."

She went to The Neuro Clinic in Lehi where Oliver administered the first test. He noticed major inconsistencies.

"What's concerning is the eyes aren't hitting the targets properly," Oliver said. "Just from looking at it, we can isolate some of these random outliers."

Although, the device hasn’t been FDA approved to officially diagnose a concussion, it gives doctors a baseline reading and helps them find the best treatment option.

"It gave them the information that helped them figure out what she needed to do, how her brain was functioning and how it wasn't functioning," said Karen Hyatt, Ryan's mother.

Her latest test showed just how far she’s come.

"You can see the difference," Oliver said. "She's a lot more consistent, hitting the target more accurately."

Ryan is now back playing lacrosse. She credits the saccadometer for getting her there a little quicker.

"It all worked," she said. "I don't have bad headaches anymore."

The saccadometer is primarily used for analyzing concussions, but doctors are also using it as a tool for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.

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