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Saints’ Coby Fleener Joins SyncThink to Offer Innovative Brain Trauma Assessment Device

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SyncThink has developed EYE-SYNC, the first FDA approved concussion symptom diagnosing device, and Fleener is helping bring it to athletes at all levels of play.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints and former Stanford tight end Coby Fleener has joined SyncThink’s Athlete Advisory Board. Based in Palo Alto, CA and developed over the past 15 years in concert with Stanford University, SyncThink’s first product, EYE-SYNC, is a 60 second, objective sideline assessment that uses eye tracking to evaluate for ocular motor impairments and vestibular balance dysfunction.

EYE-SYNC holds over 10 patents and is FDA approved. The product is a set of goggles an athlete or patient places over their eyes and displays a moving dot that is to be followed by one’s eyes. Someone who has suffered a concussion will not be able to track the dot as it moves around the screen. In under one minute, the device can definitively diagnose a concussion and advise medical staff in return to play and rehabilitation decisions.

“I am excited to work with SyncThink because I know first-hand the challenges they are facing and working to solve. The lack of objective measurement for concussions can be frustrating for us athletes, as well as the medical staff trying to keep them healthy,” said Fleener.

“SyncThink's solution, EYE-SYNC, uses tested technology and proven methods, and is a tool that should be available to athletes at every level. Objective data provided by the EYE-SYNC platform can go a long way in helping athletes, coaches, and medical staff members make the right return-to-play decisions.”

The device itself is small, relatively inexpensive, and extremely portable. It can travel easily and should be available on ALL sidelines at EVERY level. Traumatic brain injury or TBI is 90% attributed to concussion. It’s no secret that football players at every level have a dramatically increased risk of TBI via repetitive concussive forces on the field of play.

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was found guilty of the murder of Odin Lloyd and later hung himself in his prison cell. His brain was donated to CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) research where, at the age of 27, his was found to have the most advanced case of CTE ever diagnosed in someone as young as he.

Symptoms of CTE include but are not limited to difficulty thinking, impulsive behavior, depression, apathy, short-term memory loss, emotional instability, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts or behavior. It appears Hernandez suffered from every single one of these symptoms.

If concussions can be diagnosed, treated, and hopefully prevented more quickly and accurately at all levels of all sports, TBI can be greatly reduced in these athletes so they can play longer and enjoy healthier lives when they move on from the gridiron.

“Having known and worked with Coby for almost a decade, I know him to be much more than a star football player,” SyncThink’s Chief Customer Officer Scott Anderson said.

“He is thoughtful, intelligent, and cares deeply about impacting the lives of others. I believe this union is the result of a shared vision in which the sidelines and clinics of the future are properly equipped with objective testing measures like ours everywhere you look. Allowing athletes to reach their performance goals by ensuring safety is what we are all about, and it is something Coby works for every day in order to get the most out of his playing career.”

Stanford University athletics program, Iowa State University, the University of Texas, and others have already partnered with EYE-SYNC by SyncThink to benefit their student athletes. Fleener has contributed to the large-scale university and professional program roll-out that has already begun.

EYE-SYNC removes sideline guessing and replaces it with a rapid, definitive and objective diagnosis no sideline doctor or player can argue with. Instead of asking the player, “can you go?”, EYE-SYNC makes the most medically sound decision for you. As the NFL grapples with maintaining youth interest in the sport, a device like EYE-SYNC is an incredibly valuable tool that can help make the sport safer at all levels.

Over 3 million concussions are thought to occur in American athletes each year. But what if that number is only a fraction of actual concussion occurrences? Because EYE-SYNC devices would diagnose concussions that may have gone unreported without them, I wonder if future concussion statistics will show they are far more prevalent than we ever thought. At least the veil of uncertainty surrounding concussion would be lifted, and the propensity of repeated concussion could be lessened.

It’s a brain new world, and Coby Fleener is helping lead the way.