Qualitative assessments of the blink reflex are used clinically to assess neurological status in critical care, operating room, and rehabilitative settings. Despite decades of literature supporting the use of quantitative measurements of the blink reflex in the evaluation of multiple neurological disorders, clinical adoption has failed. Thus, there remains an unmet clinical need for an objective, portable, non-invasive metric of neurological health that can be used in a variety of settings. We have developed a high-speed videographybased device to trigger, record, and analyze a blink reflex. A pilot study was performed to compare the device's measurements to the published literature of electromyographic measurements, currently the gold standard. The study results indicate that the device is a viable tool to obtain fast, objective, and quantitative metrics of a blink reflex, and has promise as a non-invasive diagnostic assessment of neurological health.
The blink reflexometer described in this manuscript was developed to trigger, record and evaluate reflexive blinks. The device integrates stimulation and recording modalities, as well as evaluation metrics, selected based upon the knowledge acquired from blink reflex studies performed over the past 65 years. Tactile stimulation, in the form of a puff of air, was selected to trigger the reflex because the probability of eliciting a response approaches 1.0 . Subjects did not complain about the puff being uncomfortable, but did blink multiple times after receiving each stimulus. Air puff stimulation can introduce acoustic artifacts, which may impact the results . Light or sound could alternatively be used to trigger a reflexive blink, but each has its own limitations for use.