UTA researcher’s technology could revolutionize testing, tracking of brain performance
A UTA engineering researcher has led the development of computer tests and games, that are both web-based and contained in a cell phone application, that show and track individual human brain functioning.
George Kondraske, a University of Texas at Arlington electrical engineering and bioengineering professor, also is the chief architect at RC21X, a Coraopolis, Pa.-based company set on delivering the brain performance technology.
UTA and Home Base Impairment Co. Inc., an RC21X subsidiary, have signed a licensing agreement to use Kondraske's General Systems Performance Theory, the framework by which RC21X's tools – the clinical version of GPST and mobile application Roberto – measure a person's brain performance.
UTA and RC21X have signed a licensing agreement to use Kondraske's General Systems Performance Theory, the framework by which RC21X's tools – the clinical version of GSPT and mobile application Roberto – measure a person's brain performance.
Kondraske and RC21X have enlisted researchers in the medical and academic worlds as partners. They have signed or are in contract negotiations with former professional athletes, members of the professional sports community, public schools, college athletic programs, insurance companies and individuals suffering from brain diseases like dementia or Alzheimer's as clients.
"We see this company and technology as real breakthroughs in determining where people's brains are at a specific point in time," said Kondraske, who started at UTA in 1982. "We see everyone as a potential user of this system. Basically, if you have a brain, you can access and use this tool."
Clarence Carlos, CEO and co-founder of RC21X, assembled his team and started the company after a friend's teenaged son died from a misdiagnosed brain injury. There were no tools that provided a quick comparison to previous performance levels. "This is very personal for me," Carlos said.
"With this agreement, we're going to be able to help a lot of people all over the world," Carlos said. "We're giving people access to new data about their brain. We say you can't manage what you don't measure. Now people will have objective data. Now they can make smarter decisions about their brain and see how its performance impacts everything they do."
Kondraske said most brain performance tools on the market today only look at concussion results or what's been harmed. Many times, these tools also use highly subjective measures to account for differences in individuals' brains.
That's where Kondraske's inventive process comes into play. Together, Kondraske and RC21X have designed a way to evaluate everyone's brain on equal footing.
The unique approach to neurocognitive/neuromotor measurement and monitoring of brain performance capacities uses the science of General Systems Performance Theory, which was developed by Kondraske. In this systems approach, a human being can be viewed as a set of sub-systems, each of which possesses a certain amount of different types of performance resources. RC21X is designed to maximally stress selected sub-systems and determine "how much" of a given performance resource is available. The array of human performance resources targeted by RC21X is based on brain structure and function, and includes many of those that are drawn upon and that support performance in the more complex activities of everyday life.
"GSPT tells us how to develop the performance measures," Kondraske said. "It allows us to make tasks that are target specific so we get an accurate picture of where different peoples brains are without having to change the test."
Kondraske has spent decades studying human performance as director of UTA's Human Performance Institute.
By incorporating GSPT, RC21X can provide new insights to brain performance–especially by combining multiple performance measures. GSPT is particularly sensitive to detecting changes in human performance over time.
"That trending information is extremely valuable," Carlos said. "It crosses many sectors and industries. Once users create their normal ranges, they generate performance data that can be easily accessed in case of an injury or illness."
Gus Frerotte, RC21X's president of business development, is a 15-year NFL veteran. He said that the tools' focus on performance rather than diagnostics is important.
"You can be proactive rather than reactive. Maybe you have children who play sports, or aging parents or you're taking a new medication – all of these things impact your brain or the brain of someone you care about," he said. "Now, you can have some objective information and make better lifestyle decisions."
Duane Dimos, UTA vice president of research, said one of the more exciting aspects of the agreement is the development of the Roberto cell phone app. He said the agreement drills directly into two of the University's main themes of health and the human condition, and data-driven discovery as stated in its Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions | Global Impact.
"The app makes the technology that much more marketable," Dimos said. "Everyone has access to a cell phone, not only individual users but also healthcare providers who need to access the app for patients."
About George Kondraske
Kondraske has authored more than 250 published works. He owns three U.S. patents. The most notable is a 1987 patent that is the precursor to recognition of single-key entry of text messages. Infringement lawsuits undertaken exceeded $10 million.
Kondraske's research has been aimed at a quantitative understanding of the relationship between human systems and tasks from the perspective of performance. He introduced GSPT and applied it to the human system to realize the Elemental Resource Model for human performance. This resulted in the development of new performance modeling and predictive analytic methods known as Nonlinear Causal Resource Analysis.
Kondraske's research has been sponsored by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, the Veterans Administration and numerous private foundations and companies. He was awarded the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Early Career Award, the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation Becton-Dickinson Career Achievement Award, is a Fellow of the IEEE and a charter fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.
Coraopolis, Pa.-based RC21X (named after Roberto Clemente) has created tools that empower users to monitor their brain performance. Each session produces a unique Brain Performance Profile along with trending reports that allow the user to track their progress.
The company's clinical tool, RC21X, is being used by NovaCare/Select Medical to monitor the recovery of patients being treated for concussion, strokes and vestibular balance issues. Its mobile application, Roberto, has been downloaded in more than 140 countries.
Both platforms have their origins in tabletop devices and pen-and-paper tests that have been used for more than 50 years to measure neurocognitive and neuromotor performance. They also incorporate the science of General Systems Performance Theory developed by Dr. George Kondraske, founding director of the Human Performance Institute at the University of Texas at Arlington.
RC21X was selected to join the exclusive StartUp Health Academy, a New York-based health entrepreneurial transformation company, whose mission is to assemble a portfolio of 1,000 companies disrupting digital health care.