A student’s concussion leads to cutting-edge diagnostic technology – Eric Solender, USA
Three years ago, when high school student Eric Solender was 14, he suffered a concussion playing basketball. “I was coming down for a rebound,” Eric says, “and another kid was jumping up, and his nose slammed me in the back of the head.”
The concussion was very serious, and Eric missed nearly a full year of school while he recuperated. “Thanks to the doctors at Children’s Hospital, I was able to recover from it,” he says. “Now I’m trying to help people that [are] in the position that I was in.”
That help comes in the form of a diagnostic tool that Eric coded and designed using Kinect. The tool is a series of tests that measure a person’s coordination and response times to certain tasks, which can determine whether or not a concussion has occurred.
“If someone gets hit in the head, the tool can but used on the sidelines…and it can help determine the percentage chance that they have a concussion,” says Eric.
As is the case with many entrepreneurs, Eric’s personal experience and passion for not only learning, but giving back, led him to where he is today. But it wasn’t easy. “I never realized how serious [concussions] were until I had one,” he says. “I have taken it upon myself to learn about them.”
Not only did Solender learn everything he could about concussion, he also taught himself how to code.
“Learning the Kinect SDK was a satisfying challenge,” he notes. “I originally started programming in Java, and then made the transition to C Sharp and C++. That was the hardest part. But once I understood the SDK, then it was…I wouldn’t say easy…but it made sense. And learning the machine learning was pretty hard, too.”
What’s next for Solender? Aside from doing what he needs to make his test available for use as an FDA-approved clinical tool, “My goal is to go to college and get a Ph.D. in Computer Science,” he says. “And in my undergrad [studies], I want to minor in neuroscience or neuropsychology. Something involving the brain.”
His advice for anyone thinking of learning technology in order to help others?
“I just say try it,” he says. “I started by making games I thought would be fun to do. Just program stuff that you think would be fun, then you’ll love it like I did.”
We’ll be keeping an eye out for Eric Solender. He’s already doing amazing things – we can only imagine what the future holds for him.
High School Student
Urbana High School
Ijamsville, Maryland, USA