Rosina Samadani had been on the job for just two weeks as CEO of Oculogica, a company that develops eye-tracking products for improved brain health, when she was struck in the head by an umbrella while sitting on the beach. That’s when she learned firsthand the benefits of Oculogica’s EyeBOX, a first-of-its-kind concussion diagnostic tool.
Her sister, neurosurgeon and Oculogica founder Uzma Samadani, diagnosed Rosina with a concussion using the EyeBOX. “It confirmed to me that the device works,” Rosina says.
Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2018, EyeBOX helps diagnose concussions through a four-minute eye-tracking test that measures the functioning of cranial nerves. Uzma developed the concept for EyeBOX while working at the Manhattan Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The device, roughly the size of a desktop computer, led Fast Company to name the Samadani sisters among its most creative people in business for 2020.
UnitedHealthcare covers the EyeBOX procedure, and Oculogica hopes to persuade additional large health insurers to do the same, which could greatly widen its use. Now used primarily in clinics, the device could be employed in other crucial settings, such as school locker rooms. According to a 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, an estimated 2.5 million high school students reported having at least one concussion related to sports or physical activity during the prior year.
Rosina, who studied biomedical engineering at Northwestern, says a key part of her doctoral studies included work at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (now the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab) that allowed her to delve into her “love of finding why things work the way they do.” She founded and led three health care–focused startups before joining Oculogica as CEO in 2015.