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You can't fib about your concussion symptoms to this app now under development in Peoria

The FlightPath app in use on a football field.
OSF HealthCare
The FlightPath app in use on a football field.

Diagnosing concussions isn't an easy job.

A trained observer can put an injured person through a series of tests to assess whether cognitive or motor skills are impacted. But effective tests also require truthfulness for an accurate diagnosis.

Dr. Adam Cross, a pediatric hospitalist and clinical informaticist at the Jump Simulation and Education Center's Children's Innovation Lab, said getting honest answers is a particular problem in the world of sports.

"The athlete sometimes doesn't want to leave the game in order to take care of themselves. They want to continue to play for the good of their team and, unfortunately, means that they sometimes aren't truthful with with their symptoms," said Cross. "So that makes concussion diagnosis all the more difficult."

Cross is the head of a team developing FlightPath, an concussion assessment app for Apple and Android devices.

"Our application is an attempt to, to overcome a lot of these historical barriers to accurate diagnosis by creating a simple, two minute gamified system, where the person basically just tracks a hummingbird throughout a room in a mixed reality environment," said Cross.

Cross said the app can tell if a person is suffering concussion symptoms based on how they track the moving hummingbird. For example, someone with double vision may have difficulty watching the bird as it flies from one side of the screen to the other. If depth perception is impaired, the patient may have challenges telling when the bird is moving directly towards or away from the screen.

"It doesn't require any sort of symptom reporting. So it just focuses on their performance. And if there's a drop in their performance, from their baseline or from what we find to be normal based on testing a lot of individuals, then the app will pick up on that," said Cross.

The app has currently undergone multiple alpha testing phases. Cross said the team just received another round of funding through the Jump ARCHES fund to help move development into the next stage.

Cross said he hopes to roll out a pilot FlightPath program later this year. Final approval from the Food and Drug Administration could take several years, he said.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.