From Wired Magazine
> 4/10/2006 11:05:27 AM

New Hope for Head Injuries

By Abby Christopher| Also by this reporter

More than 50,000 people die of head injuries in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that number could be dramatically reduced if a new handheld brain scanner proves its mettle in the field.

The InfraScanner, under development at Drexel University, could help medical teams detect brain injuries much more cheaply and quickly on the battlefield and at accident scenes.

"How do you triage a soldier? How does an EMT figure out who to bring to a trauma center?" asked Dr. Geoff Manley, an associate professor of neurological surgery at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center and neurotrauma chief at San Francisco General Hospital's trauma center.

"A triage device is desperately needed. This device can help with early diagnosis, which reduces the chances of secondary injury," Manley said.

The device, which consists of a scanner and a Windows-based PDA, uses patented near-infrared optical brain imaging to determine if there is bleeding in the brain. After scanning eight points on the head, the InfraScanner sends the data through a Bluetooth connection to the PDA, where it is displayed and stored. Results for each point scanned are coded green for no bleeding and red for bleeding.

If approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the scanner will sell for $10,000 and will be used to evaluate wounded soldiers in Iraq, according to the Office of Naval Research.

In addition to the color coding, severity of bleeding is measured on a logarithmic scale from zero to 2.0. Zero means there is no detectable bleeding in the brain. A reading of 2.0 signals very severe bleeding, and a small amount of bleeding would register about 0.35, said Baruch Ben Dor, president and CEO of InfraScan, the company that is commercializing the device.

The scanner quickly gives doctors and technicians an idea of whether they need to investigate further. "The scanner does not measure the severity of the injury," said Ben Dor. "It determines whether there is bleeding, where it is and how big it (the hematoma) is."

The Office of Naval Research, which has provided $1 million -- the largest chunk of capital -- to fuel development, is eager to get the device in the hands of the Navy's Combat Casualty Care Unit to help equip battlefield medics in Iraq.

According to Office of Naval Research Cmdr. Dylan Schmorrow, 30 percent of all soldiers killed or wounded in action have head injuries, and of those, about 40 percent have bleeding in the brain.

But not everyone agrees on the best use of the device.

"For triage, the level of consciousness, vital signs, those are better indicators," said Jam Ghajar, neurosurgeon and president of The Brain Trauma Foundation. "But it could be used to monitor patients in the intensive care unit."

A clinical trial of 305 head-trauma patients conducted at Baylor College of Medicine tracked the device's accuracy from the time of patient admission to the hospital to 3 to 5 days after injury. The InfraScanner detected between 93 percent and 100 percent of injuries, depending on type.

No comments yet.

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy