Monday, May 27, 2013

Wireless Brain Studies

UC Berkeley researchers reported the development of a device that uses wireless signals to provide real-time, non-invasive diagnoses of brain swelling or bleeding. It is able to analyze data from low energy, electromagnetic waves, similar to the kind used to transmit radio and mobile signals. It could potentially become a cost-effective tool for medical diagnostics and to triage injuries in areas where access to medical care, especially medical imaging, is limited. A prototype was recently tested in a small-scale pilot study of healthy adults and brain trauma patients admitted to a military hospital for the Mexican Army. The results from the healthy patients were clearly distinguishable from those with brain damage, and data for bleeding was distinct from those for swelling. Boris Rubinsky, Professor of the Graduate School at UC Berkeley’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, who led the research team, noted that the waves are extremely weak, and are comparable to standing in a room with the radio or television turned on. The good news is that the device’s diagnoses for the brain trauma patients in the study matched the results obtained from conventional computerized tomography (CT) scans. This could be extremely useful, since “There are large populations in Mexico and the world that do not have adequate access to advanced medical imaging, either because it is too costly or the facilities are far away,” said César A. González, a professor at the National Polytechnic Institute’s Superior School of Medicine in Mexico.

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