Sept. 30, 2014,
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BrainScope Co. has secured nearly $16 million in U.S. military contracts to advance handheld technology that could help clinicians diagnose concussions and other traumatic brain injuries sooner.
Traumatic brain injuries include structural injuries, such as a bruise or bleeding in the brain. They also include concussions, which are now diagnosed through cognitive and neurological assessments. Concussions, caused by a bump or jolt to the head, alter brain function.
Brain injuries have gained more attention recently because of the toll they've taken on athletes and the military. More than 300,000 members of the U.S. military have had a traumatic brain injury since 2000, according to the Department of Defense. The National Football League, meanwhile, has settled with former players who sued the league for its handling of concussions.
In 2010, 2.5 million emergency-department visits, hospitalizations, or deaths were associated with traumatic brain injuries in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
Initially, BrainScope 's technology could help clinicians determine which patients should undergo a CT scan to check for a structural brain injury. With the help of these new contracts, BrainScope is also developing the technology for concussions. Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries can be difficult to detect because they don't always cause immediate symptoms.
BrainScope aims to help doctors decide when it's safe for someone who has had a traumatic brain injury to return to the battlefield or the playing field.
"This is an injury of younger people, for the most part, and athletes and service people have something in common, which is a very strong desire to go back into their activity," BrainScope Chief Executive Michael Singer said. "It is often up to the clinician to look after their wellbeing."
The company, based in Bethesda, Md., is working with Food and Drug Administration officials to secure a regulatory clearance for its system for use in spotting structural brain injuries, but hasn't said when it expects to reach market. BrainScope 's electroencephalogram-based system will be integrated into a smartphone, Dr. Singer said.
The $15.93 million just received through one Army and two Navy contracts add to the $11.27 million BrainScope previously received in military contracts. The new money will help the company conduct clinical research in conjunction with emergency departments across the U.S. and to advance its concussion product.
BrainScope is already working with college athletes to advance the concussion program. In January, BrainScope was one of 16 groups to receive a $300,000 award from General Electric Co . and the NFL to advance the understanding and diagnosis of traumatic brain injuries.
BrainScope is working with Purdue University to conduct research with athletes. With these new contracts, the company also plans to work with other universities as well. The goal is to develop a 10-minute assessment capability that could be used on the field after a player has had a head injury.
Military contracts have reduced BrainScope 's need for venture capital. The company, which hasn't disclosed the amount of equity it has raised, hasn't closed a major venture round in several years. Its investors include Brain Trust Accelerator Fund , Difference Capital, Maryland Venture Fund, Shaman Ventures, Revolution, created by AOL co-founder Steve Case, and ZG Ventures.