Nova Scotia

Mindful Scientific's 'consciousness scanner' detects concussions

A Halifax startup company hopes to radically improve the way sports teams assess concussions with a machine that quickly scans the brain for damage.

Players like Sidney Crosby could be spared further damage with swift device, inventor says

The Halifax Consciousness Scanner can assess for brain trauma in about ten minutes, Mindful Scientific says. (CBC)

A Halifax startup company hopes to radically improve the way sports teams assess concussions with a machine that quickly scans the brain for damage. 

"We're creating a new vital sign for the brain," Ying Tam, president of Mindful Scientific, said on Friday. "This tool [could] have been used for Sidney Crosby."

Mindful Scientific says it delivers "brain first aid" with its Halifax Consciousness Scanner (HCS).

Tam says it offers a huge improvement over the current techniques used to determine if athletes have suffered a mild brain trauma.

"This is the standard of care: 'How many fingers am I holding up? What day of the week is it?'" Tam said. 

He said that approach is not accurate, consistent or reliable. He said that when Crosby suffered his concussion, the HCS could have helped. 

"It would've been a great tool to assess his brain status after that first hit. They probably wouldn't have sent him back out onto the ice," he said. 

Once fully developed, the HCS could assess the brain health of a patient in about 10 minutes.

"Essentially we're stimulating the brain 350 times, but it's completely non-invasive. The stimulation is generated by audio sounds," Tam said. 

The device could be used by regular doctors, in the military, or other places were concussions occur. 

Mindful Scientific entered the HCS in a business idea competition called 43North, along with 3,000 other submissions. Mindful Scientific won through the early rounds and is now in the final 110.

The next cut will take it down to 25 finalists and the winner will be announced in November.

That winner gets $1 million. 

"We're pretty excited," Tam said. 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.