Student startup will help in the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorders
5
December
2018

Post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) can be diagnosed by the movement of the eye. Ukrainian physicians, military and IT-experts who presented a new method of objective diagnosis of the disease, made this conclusion. Automation of research data processing was provided by the “Eye-tracking technology in medical trials” startup, developed by a team of Ukrainian students as part of CIG R&D LAB - a joint scholarship program of the Chernovetskyi Investment Group and the Odessa National Polytechnic University (ONPU).

At the end of November, the military doctors of the Psychiatric Clinic of the Main Military Clinical Hospital together with specialists from the Filatov Institute of Eye Diseases and Tissue Therapy of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine, polygraph examiners from HR-Security and representatives of ONPU conducted experimental studies. Experts examined patients diagnosed with PTSD and participants from the control group in order to record the activity of their oculomotor system. This made it possible to identify characteristic symptoms inherent in such state. The findings confirmed the hypothesis of scientists that patients with PTSD have certain eye movement patterns.

The new method of early objective hardware diagnosis of the disease will provide an opportunity to diagnose PTSD in due time, and provide the necessary assistance to our military personnel. In addition, the invented method can be applied to detect the drivers’ fatigue states, in staff recruitment and in many other areas.

“Technologies allow accurately register various physiological parameters. The next step is data processing and its interpretation. That is, you can register eye movement with eye-tracker, and then analyze it on a particular human state. When we can form reference indicators for one or another state, we will get a full-fledged hardware-software system for express diagnostics. In this, programmers and engineers can help doctors significantly. A further field of application of the development can be very broad, but today we have confirmed that this is possible,” said one of the developers of the methodology, D.Sc. in Engineering, Professor Yuryi Danik.

Military physicians plan to use the results of research to predict the state of military personnel who have already taken part in hostilities and are currently in reserve. “If we can assess their state and provide our recommendations, it will be invaluable work. PTSD is a disorder that deteriorates a person’s life quality for the long haul. If the physicians succeed in identifying it in time, the treatment will be much more successful. Quite often people do not realize they are suffering from this disease. Their relatives and friends notice the disease manifestation, but it is sometimes difficult to persuade people with PTSD to undergo a course of treatment, mainly when the disease pattern develops. New diagnostic methods allow us to detect PTSD at the early stages and start treating it in time,” says the head of the Psychiatric Clinic of the Main Military Clinical Hospital, MD, psychiatrist Oleg Druz.

This technology is an essential component of support for our military personnel. Natalia Pasechnikova, a corresponding member of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, MD, professor, head of the Filatov Institute of Eye Diseases and Tissue Therapy also drew attention to that: “Before now, military expert personnel was significantly reduced, therefore, currently, each specialist is worth his weight in gold. If such diseases are detected in time, the military can be rehabilitated as soon as possible. This project is a vivid example of how to do things efficiently. Even without government procurements, thanks to such young IT specialists, such scholarship projects and the CIG foundation, we can do more.”

“The eye-tracking technology is widely used all over the world: equally for scientific-research and clinical purposes. This method allows objectifying what is observed subjectively. Now the whole world is trying to cease subjective assessment and eliminate the human factor in the diagnosis of disorders. Therefore, our research is relevant not only in ophthalmology but also in related medical fields,” said Alexandra Zborovskaya, MD, an ophthalmologist at the Filatov Institute of Eye Diseases and Tissue Therapy.

Developers from ONPU want to apply their original data processing method for analyzing the results of eye tracking. “We use a fairly simple method: we send a visual stimulus on a computer screen, a person tracks the points on the screen, and his pupillary responses are recorded in the memory of the eye tracker. Then we process the data and draw conclusions about the human state: this is the norm or beyond the norm. With the support of CIG, we conducted an experiment at The Center for Innovation and Advanced Technologies of the Lublin University of Technology in Poland, where we worked with the eye tracker to determine the degree of fatigue among students before and at the end of the day. On analyzing the results, we realized that the indicators are significantly different. Our first calculations were accurate to 93%: evidence that the methodology works,” notes Vitaly Pavlenko, the scientific director of the student developers’ team, Professor at ONPU.

“Modern challenges encourage military and civilian physicians to unite together their efforts. Our cooperation with the specialists of the Filatov Institute of Eye Diseases and Tissue Therapy of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine is an important example of an effective work in the medical area. During the war, we had patients whose diseases we had not encountered before, including patients with post-traumatic stress disorders caused by staying in the combat zone. Previously, there were no hardware tools for diagnosing these states and no effective methods for processing the results of such particular measurements. Therefore, it is essential for us to use the methodology proposed by young IT specialists. We are grateful to CIG for supporting innovative researches, which will significantly help physicians and will influence the strengthening of our country's defense capability,” said the head of the Main Military Clinical Hospital, MD, Major General Anatoly Kazmirchuk.

Reminder:

The aims of CIG R&D LAB is to establish a mechanism for motivation to create science and innovation developments, attaining skills for ideas commercialisation, as well as for training algorithms for innovation projects implementation. More details you can find in CIG R&D LAB Facebook page: https://bit.ly/2E7v3qd.

Chernovetskyi Investment Group (CIG) is one of the largest investment companies in Eastern Europe. Founded in 2013, its investment potential is more than $100 million. The company's portfolio includes Ukrainian IT companies Doc.ua, Softcube and Zakaz.ua. The latter was featured in Techstars, a famous accelerator in Boston. In 2015, CIG invested $1 million in a platform for children KIDO'Z (Israel) and $1 million in an international bus ticket booking service Busfor. In 2017, CIG invested in an Indian food delivery service InnerChef, as well as Kray Technologies, a manufacturer of commercial drones for agricultural companies. In 2017, CIG founded an educational fellowship program CIG R&D Lab. More details at: http://cig.vc/

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