VR Could Spot Signs of Concussion in Footballers

By Gary Cutlack on at

The emerging worry that is brain injury possibly being caused by heading footballs is the latest target of developers in VR land, with a team of researchers suggesting that VR's sensors and tricking of the brain might be able to detect the early signs of concussion and could therefore save young brains from needless battering.

It comes from a joint team at the University of Birmingham and the University of East Anglia, who say that VR's unique ability to engage the senses while other instructions are given might give clues that someone's brain needs a bit of a rest from hitting things.

They used an Oculus Rift to test the hypothesis, with the system looking for small chances in the patient's ability to balance while looking at a VR landscape and being asked questions. The idea being that in the future a player who's had a bang on the head or has headed a ball loads might pause, head to the sidelines for a brain break, put on a VR helmet and be tested to check their brain's performance level.

Dr Michael Grey said of the joint effort: "With our virtual reality balance test we're having the brain do one thing and then challenge it by tilting the room and it's only by doing this we see subtle changes that might not show up in a standard neurocognitive test. You will have players who say: 'No I'm fine, I want to go on'. But you do this test -- or one like it -- I think those questions go away." [BBC]

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