Student teams devise faster and better ways to detect concussion

August 24, 2023

Eindhoven student team SensUs organizes an annual international competition for student teams to design and build new and better biosensors.

Testing at the 2022 Competition event. Photo: Bart van Overbeeke

The aim of the international student competition SensUs is the rapid detection of traumatic brain injury. On August 31st, 15 student teams from across the globe will present their new biosensors for this challenging-to-diagnose condition. This finale of the annual SensUs Competition will take place at the TU/e campus. The students of Eindhoven based team T.E.S.T. are participating in this competition with their innovative sensor.

When an external force impacts the head, such as in cases of falls, sports incidents, or car accidents, it results in damage to the brain, a condition known as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Mild TBI cases, often referred to as concussions, pose a challenge when it comes to diagnosis. To facilitate the diagnosis, student team SensUs of the TU/e initiated a global challenge: create a sensor for the detection of Traumatic Brain Injury! 

TBI is an widespread condition, with some 70 million people worldwide being affected by it each year. Symptoms vary from headache, tiredness and memory loss to behavioral and other cognitive problems.

Research shows that current diagnostic techniques, like a CT or MRI scan, detect only five to ten percent of the milder forms of a TBI. The other cases may go unnoticed, or are only detected symptomatically. With a rapid and conclusive biosensor, physicians would be able to correctly diagnose TBI early on.

Studenten team T.E.S.T. focussing on their work. Photo: Bart van Overbeeke


The contest assignment requires the student teams to measure the concentration of the protein GFAP in blood plasma with their biosensor. The concentration of this protein increases fast and strongly within a few hours after the trauma, with which the presence of a brain injury can be established.

Between 28 and 31 August, 150 students from across the globe will come to Eindhoven to test their biosensors. During the two hour competition, they will be measuring the concentration of GFAP of 24 samples and an algorithm will judge the results based on different criteria, such as accuracy and speed. 

T.E.S.T. is the Eindhoven student team that competes in the SensUs competition. They have developed a fluorescence-based biosensor with a self-made microscope, using gold nanoparticles to enhance the signal in the biosensor.

This concept is based on state of the art research, and allows to measure very small concentrations of GFAP. The design of a custom made microscope proves beneficial since it can be fine-tuned to the characteristics of the fluorescence, making it reliable and cost-effective.

Healthcare innovations

Student team SensUs was founded in 2016 with the goal to improve the healthcare of the future. Together with professionals, partners and sponsors, the competition organized by SensUs aims to accelerate the development of innovative, faster and more advanced testing methods to detect hard to diagnose afflictions and illnesses.

Promising follow-up activities have emerged from the competition, including a startup team from Switzerland that is currently working on a sensor for the detection of sepsis in newborns. In Sweden, two students who participated in the 2022 SensUs Competition have won a startup competition with their biosensor innovation.

SensUs community. Photo: SensUs / Rob Lipsius


On August 31st, the event will take place in the Auditorium on the TU/e campus. The fifteen participating teams will be judged by a professional jury, which will assess creativity, quality, and market potential, among other criteria.

The audience will also have the opportunity to cast their vote. Finally, the results of the competition will be announced. Everyone is welcome to attend this event. The full program and registration link can be found on the website:


Nicole van Overveld
(Science Information Officer)

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