SARASOTA, Fla. (SNN) – A Suncoast doctor is working with revolutionary technology to help treat traumatic brain injuries in a way that has never been done before.

Dr. Scott Ferguson of Sarasota’s Roskamp Institute said every treatment tried so far has failed on people, but with artificial intelligence that could soon change.  He spends most of his time in the lab, so he does not deal directly with patients, however, this mission is personal to him.  “My brother is in the military,” Dr Ferguson said. “He’s in the air force, and so he’s been overseas many times, and so these kinds of issues that affect veterans strike really close to home for me.”

He knows how much a breakthrough in traumatic brain injury treatment would mean to those affected on the Suncoast.  “We see a lot of these patients looking for hope, looking for something they can take that will improve their memory, improve their outcome,” Dr. Ferguson explained. “So, my hope is really that we can find something that is successful, not just in alleviating short-term symptoms but alleviating long-term problems.”

While people are the brains behind the experiments that occur at the Roskamp Institute, in this case, AI technology is being used to take people’s bias out of it. “Bias is a tricky thing,” Dr. Ferguson said. “We do everything we can to try to blind the experimenters so that they don’t know which drug is being applied to which subject, and that way we don’t have any unintentional or subconscious influence on the results.”  That is no easy task.  “The problem is that with traumatic brain injury you get changes in gait and the way people walk and motor performances,” Dr. Ferguson said. “Things that you can see without being told they’re there.”

It is these observations that can cloud how doctors perceive experimental results. Dr. Ferguson hopes to use AI to slice through it.  Dr. Ferguson expanded “Being able to take the human out of that and have a machine that has no way of looking at that and is just looking at the results in a pure, objective fashion allows us to derive better data” 

It is not the AI many of us are familiar with, like CHAT GPT, which generates content. This is classifier AI.  “Some classifier AI simply tells you what type of object you’re looking at, whether it’s a cat, whether it’s a dog,” Dr. Ferguson said. “But we’re applying it to science and being able to classify whether a drug is working or not working.”

The potential breakthrough could mark an exciting milestone in Dr. Ferguson’s career. He has been studying traumatic brain injuries at Sarasota’s Roskamp Institute since 2012. 

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