Houston-based concussion management system BrainCheck has raised $3 million in seed funding from undisclosed investors to expand its mobile neurocognitive assessment app in two markets. The plan is to deploy the use of BrainCheck to screen for concussions in athletes as well as expand into the senior adult market, where the technology could be adapted to screen for dementia.
BrainCheck, which was founded in 2014 by Stanford neuroscientist Dr. David Eaglemen, uses an iPad or desktop screen games to measure reaction time, visual processing, cognitive process, coordination and memory. The app works by first establishing baseline brain function, and then later checks brain performance following an injury and during recovery.
The goal is to curb the high rates of concussions in athletes, especially students who do not have access to doctors on the field. Every year, 20 percent of high school athletes sustain a concussion, and 39 percent of them continue to play after a head injury. Currently, the company works with more than 40 large organizations across the US, including school districts, hospitals, YMCAs and other youth sports organizations.
“Professional athletes have doctors on the sideline to test them for concussion symptoms, but students and amateur athletes don’t have that luxury,” Eagleman, who serves as the company’s chief science officer and also is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine said in a statement.
The app was created based on 20 years of research at the Eagleman Laboratory for Perception and Action at the Baylor College of Medicine at Stanford. The idea is to replace the standard paper and pencil tests that doctors and scientists have traditionally used to measure brain health, as well as serve as a way for people to become more aware of what is happening in their brains and take agency for their health.
“BrainCheck makes it easy for them to measure their cognitive function on a normal day and then measure changes after an incident or blow to the head,” Eagleman stated. “It’s a tremendous tool for athletes and trainers to be aware of these changes that are often subtle and can be missed.”
In addition to concussions, BrainCheck is also now developing new software for people with dementia. The app will work to identify and measure changes over time, putting people in control of their brain health and eventually enabling doctors to deliver “personalized neuroscience,” the company said.
“Concussion and dementia are massive problems in desperate need of better solutions,” George McLendon, an early BrainCheck investor and former provost at Rice University said in a statement. “BrainCheck has created an easy-to-use platform that anyone can use to check their brain function and watch for changes over time or after an injury.”