A Duxbury student is well on his way to changing how concussions are diagnosed.
Joey Kelly is a senior at Dexter School in Brookline. He is a member of the hockey and lacrosse teams and was raised in an athletic family. By combining athletics and academics, Kelly arrived at his senior project, which looks to find a way to improve the way concussions are diagnosed in athletes.
Kelly started the project as an independent study at Dexter because he had completed all of his science credits by the middle of his junior year. He became interested in the increase in concern with concussions in athletes and started doing research. Eventually, he stumbled upon one particular question, “If looking into the eyes reveals something about a brain injury, wouldn’t looking beyond the eyes to the brain reveal more?”
Kelly and his father, Joe Kelly, Jr., researched the concept and determined that the study of the eye movement before and after a concussion might provide valuable information to the concussion dilemma. He started researching different ways of detecting a concussion, the history of concussion diagnosis and the prevalence of concussions and the need for better detection. Through all of his research, Kelly discovered a new method for detection that would utilize a machine to trace internal and external changes to the eyes of a potential concussion victim.
From there, Kelly got in touch with several patent lawyers, doctors and optometrists to learn more about the process of detecting concussions and to gather the most updated information from concussion studies.
“It has been a big experience for me,” Kelly said. “Traveling into Boston and meeting with these lawyers is something I never imagined doing.”
Joe Kelly, Jr., has helped his son work through some of the larger pieces of research and has worked with a couple of experts to make sure the patent was fully prepared before being sent off for approval. In the spring, he and his son hope to conduct a large study to measure pre- and post-concussion athletes.
“The unfortunate thing is that we have to wait for a kid to get a concussion before we can use them in our study,” he said. “We don’t want kids to get concussed, but it would help us in our research.”
For his senior project, Kelly submits a paper once a week to his independent study advisor on the progress of his project and will present the project at the end of the year. Beyond his senior project, Kelly plans on seeing the patent through completion, which will hopefully happen soon.
“The patent is pending with the United States Trademark and Patent Office right now,” Kelly said. “So we are just waiting for it to go through and then we can go forward.”
Kelly has applied to medical programs at several Ivy League colleges and universities and plans on continuing with the concussion patent through college.