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Open sourcing the brain is possible with 3D print headsets to create better fitting, and therefore, better reading brain scan helmets for more accurate data results. Today we are discussing how an ambitious 3D printing project could be combined with concussion screening for a better insight and understanding to what happens to the brain after a head injury. Also covering what to look for in concussion symptoms that might show up after being cleared from the doctors office that every parent should be on the look out for no matter what sport your child plays.
Listen to the podcast here:
3D Print Headsets Open Source the Brain
We’re going to talk about something on my mind lately that involves these 3D print headsets, but first I’d like to thank MakerBot for sponsoring this episode. I was recently at a conference, the CEO Space, which we speak at. Anyway, someone really interesting, who I’ve met before multiple times, Oz Schaefer sat at my table. We do this mentorship table where you sit around. I’m the mentor and they ask me questions. It’s part of the program. It’s how it works. For two hours, they get to pick my brain.
He’s got a really interesting company. We’ve talked before, he and I, because I have an interest in it. His company is called Brain Reader. They find concussions others miss before it’s too late. That’s their message, which I think is a really interesting idea. It’s been on my mind lately because our nephew was in a pretty intense concussion related accident in lacrosse last year and had some massive headaches and all of those things. I was shocked at how quickly they sent him home.
I was talking to Oz about this and Oz said that the problem is, is that they send you home and they say, “Watch him for a concussion,” the whole thing. The reality is, is that you sound like you’re cleared from the doctor, that you’re going to be okay, but the reality is you might be cleared of a brain bleed but not actually the concussion itself. The concussion can have long term effects.
He has a whole bunch of things, which I do want to talk about at the end of this podcast because there are danger signs and symptoms. We may not even be realizing it but our kids are exhibiting them long after the concussion event actually happens. We’ll talk about that at the end.
It got me thinking about, he’s got this kind of headset thing, it’s not a 3D print headset. He actually has a little flexible headset that you put on and it interacts with the software app and it measures all sorts of different measurements on the brain.
It reminded me that I’d seen this video online, this video online from a company that had a Kickstarter, and that’s how I remember it, but it was called OpenBCI. That is open brain computer interface. They were using 3D print headsets and they were going through all different iterations of the headsets, which I thought were really cool, so that they can measure different parts of the brain.
They basically use 3D printing in a way that I’m sure all of our regular listeners will understand and think, “Well, yeah. That’s a perfect application.” It’s also not really a surprising one or a revolutionary one that you can make a, call it a headset or almost like a dome helmet for your head, and make it custom sized to whoever is going to wear it because of 3D printing rather easily.
Which is important because those sensors that are measuring your brain waves have to go in specific positions and be in the right distance away from your head, there’s a lot to it. Creating a 3D print headset is an inexpensive way for them to make a lot of these headsets in various sizes to be perfectly suited to whom they need to measure.
I think that this is the perfect case of a good use of open source 3D printing, which is really what I liked about it, is that the ultra cortex, which is the headset portion of it, works with how you’d take the measurements. All sorts of different researchers out there might be researching different parts of the brain, different things that they want to be measuring, so they made the 3D printable headset open source so that you could print and assemble it yourself.
That way, you could make modifications and you could use a free application. You didn’t have to start all over from scratch and reinvent this. This organization, OpenBCI, really has the best intentions in mind for the world community of people. They have this great video that you can see. It’s a really great video. It’s about seven minutes long.
They did this basically spotlight/little documentary about them. Really, they are an open source organization and they are using this headset to map brain waves and to, among other things, help ALS patients communicate with a computer and to be able to free them from the bodies that they’re trapped in for communication and mobility, among things. Their intentions are really pure and they’ve done this as an open source project because they realize …
Well yes, they’re doing a lot of advanced stuff but they want the world community to look at it and help and improve on what they’re doing. They’re thinking for a generation or two in the future and that it’s going to give them greater velocity for improving this brain computer interface if they make everything they’re doing open source and they allow other people to review it, add to it, comment on it, improve it, whatever.
That really makes it the perfect case study for a good use of open source 3D print, in this case, 3D print headsets. It’s a perfect case for it because they work with normal EEG machines and things like that. There’s the connection base but the customize portion, where you can make the most changes in what you could do, happens in the headset portion.
Rather than make that proprietary or make that special, that’s the part they said, “If we open source this, then we’re going to get the most data and the most information back into our open BCI system.” That brain computer part is really the power of the future of where we can impact the world and impact growth in this area and help more people.
It’s really interesting because one of the founders of this organization, he actually developed an interest in this because he had a traumatic brain injury as a Rugby player, had a concussion and used this process of studying his own brain waves to really understand what had changed in his brain. He knew something had changed because just experiencing his life afterward, he knew it. He didn’t fully understand it and started to learn about it, map it, work with a partner who was a teacher of his.
It’s a really good story. I think the fact that he had enough sense to realize that his brain had changed is pretty amazing. I think it’s pretty advanced. He was in touch with who he was and he felt muddled and he didn’t feel right in how he was thinking. He noticed that and luckily, he was in an industry at which he could be ultra sensitive and do something about it.
For the most part, a lot of the concussions are occurring in our kids. That’s really where I come back to Brain Reader and what Oz Schaefer is doing there. I really want to point that out and tie this back into what I talked about at the beginning. 70% of all concussions are missed or incorrectly diagnosed. That’s high. It says that girls under thirteen are more likely to get a concussion playing the same activity as boys of the same age. That’s just seems amazing to me.
When I watch my niece, Ashley, play soccer, it’s not surprising to me that she’s more aggressive in how she plays and what’s happening there. The US women’s synchronized swim team suffered over 50% concussions during two weeks of training. Swimming. You’d think it’d be safer but it’s not. There’s no helmet. I guess a helmet would really probably create a lot more friction with the fluid of water moving around.
You don’t realize it, that kind of thing. This is really interesting. They measure their health screening. It’s a really interesting technology. I like how Oz has approached it and how he’s making it work. What he wants to do is get this machine … It’s just an app, really. It’s an app on a tablet and this headset that you buy. I think it’s only $500. It’s not even super expensive.
Like, a team parent could buy it and then test and screen all of the kids when there’s been some field altercation or something like that. The idea is that you don’t just want to test them once, you want to test them immediately after and then you want to test them on a daily basis and keep screening and see if their numbers are improving or if they’re not. That’s the sign of that.
It measures on four points. Focus, memory, reaction time and balance. It’s just like a quick little quiz that you’re taking essentially, on this app. It’s not that difficult, you can do it for most kids of most ages. I don’t know if you have to be able to read but I’m assuming that under that age, hopefully they’re not taking headers in soccer under the age of six. Let’s hope not. Not that young. They’re all moving their heads away from it.
Each time you get a machine or you get a package, you get 50 evaluations. Your results goes into their server, in the cloud, it cranks through the numbers, it’s comparing it against huge quantities of concussion data that they have from both people with concussions and without to balance that out from kids. It’s based on age and it has a whole bunch of data that it’s crunching for you.
Then it sends back a resulting number, which looks like a thermometer. It’s like red, green, yellow. It’s just giving you a gauge of how they’re doing and how they’re improving. Until everything’s in the green, you don’t want to send them back in.
That’s really the key, is we’re sending them back in too soon because the doctor says, “Oh, you’re fine.” You’re fine from the brain bleed. You’re fine in terms of the immediate danger that would be life-threatening. You’re not fine in terms of your brain really healing from that event.
Here’s some things, I just want to point them out. We will have a scan of this and post this into the blog post as well. There are danger signs and symptoms that it’s a more severe injury than a concussion. Any bump hit can cause a brain bleed, swelling, blood clot.
These are things that we should be aware of as parents and as coaches and for ourselves as getting in car accidents and other things that you think you’re fine but then you’re not later. Any complaints of a headache getting more severe, eyes with one pupil is a different size, the black center that’s larger than the other, repeated vomiting, convulsions, jerking of arms or legs, any kind of slurred speech or your face looks uneven and if you’re not able to walk.
Obviously, we know the one where you’re supposed to keep them awake if they lose consciousness. That’s why you’re supposed to be on watch, not let them sleep too long after a concussion, or sleep at all. If you don’t recognize stuff in your environment or your home, if there’s any blood obviously, uneven breathing, changes in personality and an arm or leg that becomes weaker. Those are severe danger signs.
But concussion signs are a lot more subtle. It might just be headache that feels like pressure. It might be a little neck pain when you’re at rest. You might have a little bit of blurry vision. You might feel like you’re seeing a little bit stars. You might have slow reaction time, that’s one of the things that their app measures. You might actually have a change in hearing and you don’t really realize it, just like a little ringing or buzz in your ears.
You might be over tired, not having enough energy. These things seem like normal teenager things. Regards to my sixteen year old nephew, if he sleeps too much, I don’t think we’d notice. It’s kind of his thing. You would consider that to be normal.
That would be normal, but actually he may be actually feeling sleepier and drowsier and not telling you. These are reasons why we wanted things that … Feeling woozy, difficulty reading, solving math problems, retaining information. That guy who was starring in this video, obviously sensed a cognitive difference in himself. Are our kids really going to tell us that?
I think obviously there are a lot of known cautionary warning signs that obviously you’re letting everybody know. Like you said, we’re going to have the document, a scan of it, posted on the blog post. I think that for me, as a parent, I think a really good rule of thumb would be, after a traumatic event of any kind like that, that to just be monitoring your child for any change from what is the normal pattern of the past that you know.
Oz also points out that there is a long term … If you’re noticing behavioral changes over time, it may be a frustration to the fact that they don’t feel normal. They don’t feel like themselves. When you’re starting to see a behavior pattern that is happening long term, it may mean that they had not healed properly from that, that they did not get the rest they needed, they did not get the recovery that they needed.
Behavioral problems and/or long term effects on their school work. If all the sudden they shift to not being as good a student, these are some long term signs that you missed something in the process there. The biggest thing is no aspirin, no Tylenol, which sounds like you want to give them something for the headache, but no aspirin, no Tylenol. I get the aspirin part because it thins blood. I don’t know about the Tylenol, because it masks symptoms, I think.
There is a case, you don’t let your child sleep for six hours while you look for all those 911 symptoms. Anything that might be a brain bleed or a clot or any of those problems, the ones I’ve talked about at the beginning. After the six hours, you need to let them get eight hours of intense quality sleep. No light, no sound, no cellphone, no video, no TV during either the six hours or the eight hours. You know how hard that is, to be keeping that bored kid away from that, for most kids these days? That’s really hard but you need to do it because it’s the most important way the brain can heal itself. I thought that was really an ah-ha for me. I will definitely post this up and you can get in touch with them.
Definitely watch this open source brain video for these 3D print headsets. It’s a really cool model of how cooperative 3D printing can be but also just an interesting way to be able to iterate design as well, because you get to see all the different 3D print headsets they made. Obviously, 3D printing is really a gateway to the story, but the story goes way beyond 3D printing. Thanks for bearing with us as we depart from maybe a typical … To a slight public service message.
That’s really what it is. I think it’s an important one and it’s worth sharing with our audience. I’m sure a lot of our listeners either have encountered an injury like this and someone they know or a family member or maybe had something themselves. Hopefully you’ll find it useful but also it still is relevant. There is a 3D printing benefit. It’s a great story. The quality of the video, by the way, on the Freethink Media, it’s a very well-done video. Really well produced. As a video, it’s well produced, well cut together. It’s only about seven minutes long. You could do it over lunch or something. Very cool. We highly recommend you scroll up to the top of the blog post to check that out.
If you have anything interesting you want to share with us, you can share it there or you can do it on social media @3DStartPoint. We’d love to hear if any of you had any other experiences or other stories you know about regarding helmets or other things to help protect injuries that has a 3D print tie in, that would be really interesting to learn.
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