Objective Classification of mTBI Using Machine Learning on a Combination of Frontopolar Electroencephalography Measurements and Self-reported Symptoms

M. Windy McNerney, Thomas Hobday, Betsy Cole, Rick Ganong, Nina Winans, Dennis Matthews, Jim Hood, Stephen Lane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Background: The reliable diagnosis of a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is a pervasive problem in sports and in the military. The frequency and severity of each occurrence, while difficult to quantify, may impact long term cognitive function and quality of life. Despite the new revelations concerning brain disfunction from head injuries, individuals still feel pressure to remain on the field despite a debilitating injury. In this study, we evaluated the accuracy of a system that could be employed on the sidelines or in the locker room to provide an immediate objective mTBI assessment. Methods: Participants consisted of 38 individuals with a recent mTBI and 47 controls with no history of mTBI within the last 5 years. Participants were administered a simple symptom questionnaire, behavioral tests, and resting state EEG was measured using three frontopolar electrodes. An advanced machine learning algorithm called boosting was utilized to classify subjects into either injured or controls using power spectral densities on 1-min of resting EEG and the symptom questionnaire. Results: Results based on leave-one-out cross-validation revealed that the addition of EEG measurements boosted the accuracy to approximately 91 ± 2% compared to 82 ± 4% from the symptom questionnaire alone. Conclusion: This study demonstrated the potential benefit of including EEG measurements to diagnose suspected brain injury patients. This is a step toward accurate and objective classification measurements that can be implemented on the field as a future injury assessment tool.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14
JournalSports Medicine - Open
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019



  • EEG
  • Machine learning
  • mTBI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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