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Diverse team develops groundbreaking device for brain injuries

Posted at 11:49 PM, Nov 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-14 22:20:22-05

A new medical device promises to diagnose a concussion in under four minutes and its creators are backed by a unique partnership between the NFL's Green Bay Packers and Microsoft.

The world of traumatic brain injuries and concussions is filled with gray matter. The diagnosis is subjective and every doctor manages it differently as the injury is just as complex as the brain.

“When you have a heart attack and go into the ER, you get five objective tests. If you get a brain injury and you go into the ER, you get, ‘Follow my finger, what month is it, who’s the president?’ We have to do better for brain-injured patients,” Dr. Rosina Samadani, CEO of Oculogica, said.

Samadani developed a device called the "Eye Box.” Her sister, a neurosurgeon, discovered the technology.

“Where it really came from was noticing that when there’s a deficit in the cranial nerves, there is a deficit in eye movements and there is that same deficit that occurs in concussed patients.,” Samadani said.

So, she created an algorithm based on those eye movements, which is how the Eye Box was born.

“We’re looking at your pupils, we’re tracking them and having you perform a simple task,” Samadani said. “You watch a video as it moves around the screen and we watch your eyes watching that video and that’s it.”

The sisters took the idea to TitletownTech.

“We look for exceptional founders who are solving meaningful problem,” said Jill Enos, the managing director of TitletownTech.

The venture capital fund builds and invests in startups.

“TitletownTech was formed out of this improbable partnership between the Green Bay packers and Microsoft, both of whom shared a common interest in advancing the technology capabilities of the region but also in leveraging the strength of startups and founders as economic drivers in the regional economy,” Enos said.

Enos says Oculogica immediately caught their attention. And that is no easy feat. In just 15 months, more than a thousand ideas have crossed their desk. They've invested in 20; several are women and minority led.

“As someone who is in venture capital, which is also not a very common women focused industry, it was great to see two strong founders that we could connect with and get behind,” says Enos.

“We don’t feel that we’re so different than our peers but we are. We know we are and with that, we feel there is a great deal of responsibility,” Samadani said.

She wants girls to love math and science like she does. And she says to realize that the sky is the limit.

“We’re also very excited to show other women and young girls they can do this and women can be great at math and science. I wake up every single day and I’m so excited about what I’m doing and we’re changing the world of brain injury. Any woman, any young girl, can grow up to do this and that’s fantastic,” said Samadani.

Oculogica is already authorized by the FDA, and the insurance and reimbursement codes are being worked out now. Some clinics already have it, and more are expected.

“The best feeling is when we get a call from a mom or dad who says, ‘I'm so relieved we now know what’s going on,'” Samadani said. "'I didn’t know where to turn it.’ Just relieves their anxiety that is everything- absolutely everything when we get a call like that.”