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After the crash

June 26, 2013

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common feature of life around the world, causing some 60,000 deaths each year in the US alone. The primary causes of TBI include shootings, falls, and traffic accidents. Overall, about 20 percent of TBI lead to death within a month, with many others resulting in permanent brain dysfunction.

Physicians believe many of these negative outcomes could be prevented by earlier diagnosis and treatment, ideally in the so-called “golden hour” immediately following the injury which offers the greatest chance of minimizing brain damage. Unfortunately, when injuries occur in the field, or are not clearly seen as serious conditions, evaluation by CAT scan is often delayed far beyond the golden hour.

Dr. Cesar Gonzales, of Mexico’s Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Escuela Superior de Medicina, was particularly concerned about the lack of medical imaging in rural areas and economically disadvantaged areas of the world. He wanted to develop an inexpensive sensor with which medics in the field and ambulance paramedics could diagnose, with the help of remote physicians, situations that require some form of immediate treatment, and to provide notice of critical cases arriving at a hospital.

Noting that brain injuries usually produce characteristic changes in, for example, the amount of fluid in the brain, Dr. Gonzales, together with Professor of Bioengineering at UC Berkeley Boris Rubinsky, developed a method to measure the associated changes in the brain’s electromagnetic properties. The result is a prototype Volumatic Electromagnetic Phase-shift Spectrometer (VEPS).

More about this at these sites. and


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