New brain helmet can detect stroke within seconds
Researchers in Sweden have developed a portable helmet that can determine within seconds if a patient has suffered a stroke.
The new invention is the result of a joint partnership between the Swedish company Medfield Diagnostics and researchers at the Chalmers University of Technology, Sahlgrenska Academy and Sahlgrenska University Hospital.
The helmet is named as the “Strokefinder”. The new device can identify whether a person has experienced a stroke and can further determine what kind of a stroke has occurred.
The headwear functions by sending microwave signals – similar to those emitted by mobile phones and microwave ovens but 100 times weaker – to the brain.
These signals are then converted into detailed images showing the flow of blood through the arteries that help determine whether the patient has had a stroke. This process enables doctors to see if a blood vessel has leaked or if a blood clot has been formed.
If a blood vessel has leaked it is identified as a haemorrhagic stroke, which would require immediate surgery. Whereas, a blood clot is recognised as an ischaemic stroke, which requires an injection of clot-busting drugs within three hours of the clot formation.
Handling one type of stroke with the treatment of another can be fatal. Therefore, accurate diagnosis and rapid treatment is of utmost importance.
According to the study published in the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society’s journal, the new helmet accurately distinguished between the two type of strokes in 45 patients.
Researchers are now planning on carrying out clinical trials in hospitals where ambulance crews would be given the helmets fitted into patients’ pillows.
At present, medical staff rely solely on CT scans on arrival at hospital. With the help of Strokefinder patients would gain access to immediate treatment on arrival, as scan results would have been transmitted en route.
Experts say use of the Strokefinder would be a “major medical breakthrough”. According to the Stroke Association there are approximately 152,000 stroke cases reported in the UK every year. Numbers show one in five are fatal, making stroke the fourth largest cause of death in the UK after cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease.
It is believed using the Strokefinder would significantly reduce the diagnosis and treatment time and the likelihood of brain damage. There would also be less fatalities and patients suffering long-term disability.
Faster recovery time would also prove financially beneficial to the health service with free bed spaces and reduced need for expensive rehabilitation.
According to the Telegraph, the device will be approved for sale in Europe later this year.