Computerized dodge ball, virtual space flight, sorting shapes—sounds like products for a favorite gaming system.
Much more than just child’s play, these activities are part of a new 12-minute brain health assessment tool that can monitor brain wellness and progress in myriad settings such as physical therapy clinics and youth sports—and even to help monitor brain activity of former NFL players.
Launched two and a half months ago and ready for market now, RC21X is a performance measurement system created by the Coraopolis-based firm with the same name. It features 15 web-based, game-like activities.
Based on 50 years of neurological, psychological and bioengineering research, the games are challenging and fun, says Clarence Carlos, RC21X CEO. The activities, including finger tapping exercises, executive decision making tests and visual and auditory process drills, can be completed in a home or clinic setting with a computer, mouse and secure internet connection.
The system addresses three to four thousand data points in the brain that can examine stress levels throughout the different activities.
“Then it can deliver data to your doctor, or you can pick up on subtle changes, look at things like sleep deprivation or if you’re getting over a cold,” Carlos says.
Each session provides a profile for the individual that compares results only with the person taking the test.
“It’s providing the ability to take a snapshot of your brain to see what is normal for you right now,” says Chris Fletcher, director of marketing for RC21X.
Carlos, a former member of Robert Morris University’s sports advisory board, began to develop the idea about seven years ago when the son of a friend died from a stroke after a CT scan and other tests showed no injury.
Named for baseball legend and humanitarian, Roberto Clemente (whose number was 21), RC21X is not a concussion tool like the widely used ImPACT system.
“It is a brain health monitoring tool,” says Carlos.
“Weekly, we are flying in ex-NFL players to do the test as part of a legal case against the NFL. We’re up to about 50 players right now,” says Carlos. He notes the players receive a physical exam and a two-hour neurological exam as well.
“One of the modules of the test asks to put five different shapes in order. Some of the players were unable to do this,” says Carlos. That module, adds Fletcher, could flag issues with visual processing, complex cognitive behavior, problem solving ability, language processing, visual memories and more.
RC21X has also partnered with the National Council of Youth Sports—making a free trial of RC21X available to potentially 60 million young athletes—and local labor unions with another 14,000 members who will be able to monitor their health and wellness.
The firm has recently inked deals with Harrisburg-based Drayer Physical Therapy’s 115 clinics, and NovaCare Rehabilitation’s 1,000 nationwide clinics to track, among other issues, the recovery progress of stroke patients.
The gym division of the Mon Valley Hospital is getting ready to go live with the system as well, says Carlos.
“The brain is like a jungle. We’re just the weed wacker. If you keep doing these types of games, you can improve your brain performance—now and in the long haul,” he says.