Field Testing the Brain Thermometer

2015-0912 Brain Thermometer

Some time ago, I read an article that mentioned the Army is testing a smartphone application that works like a brain thermometer. According to the article, the US Food and Drug Administration cleared the application.

Although I have never tested or used the product, I am not convinced the product does anything to help military personnel or anybody else. Here’s why.

Knowing the brain, or a specific part of the brain, is hotter or colder than the baseline for an individual is not very meaningful. I am not a neurologist, but I think it is fairly safe to conclude brain temperature is affected by many factors such as fear, anxiety, duress, and activity. Therefore, it is possible the application could provide a false positive in which there is a notable difference in brain temperature, but no actual brain injury.

Furthermore, since military personnel are taught to keep calm in situations that would be extremely stressful many civilians, there is a possibility the training might mask temperature changes that indicate a brain injury. In such cases, the application could generate a false negative which indicates there is no brain injury when one really exists.

Since I have not seen the application, I am not sure what the designers did, or did not do, to ensure the app is not affected by environmental temperatures.

The pictures of the app are very impressive. There is no doubt in my mind that an application which improves diagnosis and/or treatment of brain injury should be accessible everywhere there is a high risk of traumatic brain injury.

I am not suggesting the brain thermometer smartphone app will not work, I am simply saying I have some doubts about it.

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