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Blinktbi's portable EyeStat device measures blink reflex

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Blinktbi of Charleston has developed a new technology to measure and assess the blink reflex.

According to Blinktbi, EyeStat, cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, delivers data about the blink reflex in less than a minute. It stimulates and measures the blink reflex using light puffs of air, high-speed videography and a proprietary algorithm.

A news release from the Medical University of South Carolina said the FDA clearance enables the company to market EyeStat as a measuring tool that displays the mechanically induced blink reflex, though it cannot yet market it as a diagnostic device.

Blinktbi co-founder and COO Ryan Fiorini said in the release that clinical trials show that blink reflexes change after the brain experiences trauma.

According to the news release, the idea for the EyeStat device came from MUSC neurosurgery assistant professor Nancy Tsai, who wanted to create a maneuverable device to measure the blink reflexes of athletes on the sidelines to monitor for concussions.

Tsai worked with the Zucker Institute for Applied Neurosciences at MUSC to produce a research device. The institute filed a patent in 2013 and began to build a prototype in collaboration with Lt. Col. Dena Garner, a health and human performance professor at The Citadel. The rights were later licensed to Blinktbi to develop, test and commercialize the technology, the release said.

“We built some devices that could do preliminary testing; however, they were large and had to be wheeled around on carts and had no use as an on-field device. Thus, they weren’t very practical,” said Mark Semler, co-inventor of the EyeStat and CEO of the Zucker Institute for Applied Neurosciences. “Blinktbi was able to shrink the device down to a small portable device designed for sideline clinic use.”

The FDA clearance was received in December.

According to the release, EyeStat is being used by sports teams to measure mechanically induced blink reflex, which helps Blinktbi collect data to assess whether the device can effectively diagnose concussions. Initial partners include Spartanburg High School, the S.C. Stingrays, the Hershey Bears hockey team and the Johnson C. Smith University Golden Bulls, among other groups.

Other studies are being done to look at indications for testing sobriety and neurological diseases, the release said.

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