The app, called the Defense Automated Neurobehavioral Assessment (DANA), runs on multiple mobile platforms and was recently granted U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. “It's like a brain thermometer,” stated Lt. Col. Chessley Atchison, a program manager for the Combat Casualty Care Research Program of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC). “And once we get it right, we’re going to put it fairly far forward in the field.”
According to the USAMRMC, DANA operates much like a video game. Service members will undergo a baseline series of on-screen exercises during which both their speed and accuracy are recorded. Those who may have had a serious head injury will then participate in a series of both cognitive efficiency tests and self-administered questionnaires. Afterward, a clinician will review the results, comparing them with the results of the baseline exercises. The combination of the app's cognitive and psychological components allows for insight into the prevalence of symptoms related to both traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder, USAMRMC said in a press statement.
USAMRMC stated that once DANA is fully validated for battlefield use, it may be used to help assess fitness for duty. The app is currently being tested on tablet devices.
For more information on diagnosing traumatic brain injury, see the Psychiatric News article "I Can’t Think Clearly: Diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injury with DSM-5."