Baylor Innovations Spring 2014 : Page 14

BREAKTHROUGHS Wireless Helmet Detects Brain Trauma NEW DEVICE MAY MAKE DIAGNOSIS OF BRAIN INJURY EASIER, CHEAPER AND MUCH LESS INVASIVE. BY KURT ULLMAN DIAGNOSIS OF BRAIN INJURIES MAY SOON BE GOING WIRELESS. New technology from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Mexico’s National Polytechnic Institute could potentially lead to less costly – and more widely available – tests to diagnose brain swelling and bleeding. “The majority of the world’s population doesn’t have easy access to medical imaging,” says Boris Rubinsky, PhD, professor in the graduate school of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. “We were looking for a way to make medical imaging devices that are inexpensive and very easy to use but still able to produce useful diagnostic information.” The device uses two coils in a helmet that is placed on a person’s head. One acts as a radio transmitter and the other as a receiver. Electromagnetic waves are sent through the brain from one coil to the other. Increases in fluids seen in brain swelling (edema) or internal bleeding (hematoma) conduct the waves differently from regular tissue. Computer algorithms interpret these changes and determine the likelihood of injury. “One way to understand this is by listening to your radio,” says Dr. Rubinsky. “When there is lightning or atmospheric disturbances between the transmitter and your radio, you will hear extra noises that interfere with the programming. When there is blood or fluid in the brain, the wave is shifted and there is a change in the signal that can be analyzed by a computer.” Radio Waves 14 BAYLOR INNO V A TIONS :: SPRING 2014

Wireless Helmet Detects Brain Trauma

Kurt Ullman

NEW DEVICE MAY MAKE DIAGNOSIS OF BRAIN INJURY EASIER, CHEAPER AND MUCH LESS INVASIVE.

DIAGNOSIS OF BRAIN INJURIES MAY SOON BE GOING WIRELESS.

New technology from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Mexico’s National Polytechnic Institute could potentially lead to less costly – and more widely available – tests to diagnose brain swelling and bleeding.

“The majority of the world’s population doesn’t have easy access to medical imaging,” says Boris Rubinsky, PhD, professor in the graduate school of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. “We were looking for a way to make medical imaging devices that are inexpensive and very easy to use but still able to produce useful diagnostic information.”

Radio Waves

The device uses two coils in a helmet that is placed on a person’s head. One acts as a radio transmitter and the other as a receiver. Electromagnetic waves are sent through the brain from one coil to the other. Increases in fluids seen in brain swelling (edema) or internal bleeding (hematoma) conduct the waves differently from regular tissue. Computer algorithms interpret these changes and determine the likelihood of injury.

“One way to understand this is by listening to your radio,” says Dr. Rubinsky. “When there is lightning or atmospheric disturbances between the transmitter and your radio, you will hear extra noises that interfere with the programming. When there is blood or fluid in the brain, the wave is shifted and there is a change in the signal that can be analyzed by a computer.”

Useable Information

Dr. Rubinsky and Cesar Gonzalez from the National Polytechnic Institute conducted a small pilot study in Mexico by looking at eight patients between 27 and 70 years old with brain damage confirmed by CT scans. These were compared with 46 healthy adults 18 to 48 years old.

“The results showed that we can obtain useable information very early on while there is still time to provide treatment to many who wouldn’t have been able to get it otherwise because of the expense or complexity of other types of imaging,” says Dr. Rubinsky. “We found that the information we get tells us what the diagnostic indicators are with greater accuracy and detail than we expected.”

Although stressing that these are very early findings, this could be a “game-changer” if they are confirmed by larger studies, says Michael Foreman, MD, chief of the Division of Trauma, Critical Care, and Acute Care Surgery and a physician on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

A New Approach

“This is a completely unique way to look at pressures inside the brain,” says Dr. Foreman. “Previously the only way to assess this was to drill a hole in the skull and insert monitors. If this gives us a noninvasive way to follow the pressure, it is a colossal methodology.

“If this device truly allows us to noninvasively monitor fluids or blood in the brain and intervene in a timely manner, we have a lot of folks that could use it,” Dr. Foreman adds. “It could definitely be a game-changer if further studies are successful.”

POINTS OF CONTACT

For a physician referral, visit BaylorHealth.com or call 1-800-4BAYLOR.

To learn more about head injuries, visit BaylorHealth.com and search for “head trauma.”

Read the full article at http://mydigitalpublication.com/article/Wireless+Helmet+Detects+Brain+Trauma/1703198/206457/article.html.

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