The iPad Concussion Detector

A boxer tests herself for signs of a concussion using an iPad app developed at the University of Notre Dame. Credit: University of Notre Dame

A new iPad app developed by researchers at the University of Notre Dame can spot a concussion by the sound of a voice. By comparing a recording of a healthy athlete reading a few sentences to one who has suffered a hard impact, the software can find telltale signs of a concussion – distorted vowels, hypernasality, and imprecise consonants. If an at-risk athlete fails the test, they should see a physician. Some 300,000 young, nonprofessional athletes – in college, high school, and Little League – suffer from concussions every year. These numbers are likely underreported, because there are rarely physicians on the field in amateur sports, and available tests are easily cheated. "We're looking first at boxing, but you could eventually use it for other situations, like car crashes," says Christian Poellabauer, professor of engineering and head of the project.