Neuro Kinetics nabs $2.4M contract to advance combat brain injury testing technology

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded medical device manufacturer Neuro Kinetics (NKI; Pittsburgh, PA) with a $2.4 million contract to advance the application of the company's I-Portal oculomotor (eye movement) tracking technology for battlefield testing of combat brain injuries.

The DoD contract, awarded through its competitive Rapid Innovation Fund program, should allow NKI to develop sufficient clinical results to seek 510(k) certification from the FDA for expanded use of its medical devices, including in the sports medicine and accident care fields, the company says.

The I-Portal technology gauges neuro-physiologic functionality by measuring the eye's reflex to a variety of oculomotor stimuli taxing different parts of the brain. The company's data shows that I-Portal can detect abnormalities caused by various forms of brain injuries, including often hard-to-detect mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs), also known as concussions. Currently, there is no accepted clinical method to detect mTBIs.

The I-Portal test battery also suggests that the data derived is significantly more objective than current neuro-psychological tests that rely partially on patient self-diagnosis.

The DoD contract will fund NKI research at two U.S. military basic training sites, Naval Medical Center San Diego (Navy) and Martin Community Hospital at Ft. Benning (Army). Principal investigators have been appointed at each site and preparations for the study have begun.

NKI's current FDA 510(k) certification permits use of the company's devices for the testing of various vestibular and balance-related diseases and conditions.

The severity of head injuries in returning combat soldiers ranges from a brief change in mental status or consciousness to extended unconsciousness and amnesia. In severe or multiple concussion cases, personality changes can occur with devastating results. mTBIs have been linked with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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