The Buffalo Bills and Carestream Health Inc. have struck a deal that will help the Bills get a critical early read on player injuries and boost Carestream’s research and development efforts, officials of the National Football League team and the Rochester medical imaging company said Wednesday.
In time for use, if needed, at the Bills first pre-season home game, Carestream has installed two of its most advanced digital imaging devices at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, Erie County, said Diana Nole, president of Carestream’s Digital Medical Solutions unit.
The newly installed Carestream DRX-Ascend System and Directview CR System can deliver interpretable images of injured limbs or joints in six to eight seconds versus two to three minutes for the computed radiography devices the team has used, Nole said.
The reduced time to diagnose limb or joint injuries could make a crucial difference for injured players, she said. But information learned from the new systems’ deployment also will help move Carestream closer to developing next-generation imaging systems to provide the finely detailed images needed to quickly and accurately pinpoint traumatic brain injuries and allow for their timely treatment.
The Bills deal dovetails with Carestream’s four-year-old research partnership with Johns Hopkins University in which the Baltimore school and Carestream are working on cone-beam 3-D imaging systems that would give diagnosticians clearer pictures of musculoskeletal injuries.
The logical next step for the researchers would be digital imaging systems that quickly give detailed pictures of blood vessels feeding the brain to give diagnosticians a quick, clear reading of the seriousness of head trauma, Nole said.
Bills president and CEO Russ Brandon called the team’s deal with Carestream an important step in the NFL’s efforts “to better understand the impact of traumatic brain injuries and the effect on players’ health.”
Traumatic brain injuries have been a simmering issue in the NFL for years as retired players learned hits to the head they sustained in play or practice and shrugged off later led to ills such as cognitive impairment, dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
In recent years, more than 4,000 ex-NFL players have sued the league over concussion-related injuries and ills. In one recent case, filed Aug. 1 in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, ex-players seeking unspecified damages take the league to task for alleged improper monitoring of concussions.
“Our work will create a system capable of detecting (traumatic brain injuries) at the point of care ... to confidently diagnose subtle brain injury and direct patients to appropriate therapy, avoid repeat injury and stem the debilitating effects of undetected disease,” predicted Jeffrey Siewerdsen, a researcher and professor in Hopkins’ Department of Biomedical Engineering.
Imaging advances Carestream could gain from its Bills and Johns Hopkins partnerships will yield benefits beyond the football field, Nole said.
Because they are prohibitively expensive, unwieldy and require patients to stay still for long periods, NFL teams typically do not deploy the most sophisticated imaging equipment such as the room-size MRI machines and CAT scan devises found in hospitals, she said. But current research could lead to the development of highly accurate yet portable devices that could deliver quickly images.
Such devices would be as warmly welcomed by hospitals and ambulatory treatment centers as they would be in sports teams’ locker rooms, Nole said.
(c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.