Robot Allows Doctors To Remotely Monitor Athletes for Concussions

November 8, 2014 in News

This fall, Dartmouth College is testing a new robotic telehealth service that allows brain specialists to remotely examine football players for concussions from the sidelines, NPR’s “Shots” reports.

Device Details

Developed by Dartmouth College and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Center for Telehealth, the VGo allows neurologists and neuropsychologists to remotely consult with athletic trainers to help determine whether a player has a concussion.

The robot is controlled remotely by the specialist and equipped with a camera that allows the physician to pan and zoom as necessary to examine players. During the remote consultation, the physician can recommend next steps for treatment.

Sarah Pletcher, director of the Center for Telehealth, said that “essentially one doctor could be on the sidelines of a dozen games all at the same time” when using the device.

She added that if the robot is successful at Dartmouth, it could potentially be used for other contact sports — such as basketball, lacrosse or hockey — and by schools that are unable to fully staff games with medical professionals because of budget constraints.

Some critics of the robot say it would be less costly and faster to use a smartphone or a tablet for telehealth services.

However, Bert Vargas, a neurologist who has helped test VGo, said the robot’s ability to be remotely controlled by the specialists eliminates the need for an extra person to operate the device, which would be needed for a phone or tablet (Bruzek, “Shots,” NPR, 11/6).

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