Imagine getting to an emergency room and having a brain injury diagnosis waiting for you. What if a quick scan by an EMT could guard against serious secondary injuries? That’s what a new technique is working toward. Researchers are developing software that would use ultrasound images to create 3-D models of injured brains and send them to experts for diagnosis and treatment.
After a traumatic brain injury (TBI), timing is key. Early concussion screening in emergency rooms, and even at the accident site, can help guide treatment and aid recovery. Even when the initial diagnosis is less severe, the secondary injuries caused by swelling and lack of blood flow to the brain can cause significant and sometimes permanent disability. By catching a TBI diagnosis early, doctors can use medication and strategic surgery to reduce swelling and limit those secondary injuries.
That’s why the new software being developed by Dr. Leila Eadie of the Centre for Rural Health at the University of Aberdeen is so ground breaking. Funded by the United Kingdom’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s Centre for Defence Enterprise, the software is designed to help field medics detect, diagnose, and treat soldiers’ brain injuries faster.
It allows field medics to use Ultrasound devices, which they already carry, to create a 3-D model of the injured brain. The file containing the model, created from 2,000 different images all around the skull, is then sent to an expert for analysis and diagnosis. The remote expert can then recommend a treatment plan to the medical staff in the field, who can perform the time-sensitive operations to minimize the damage.
Dr. Liea Eadie said:
“There is a clear need for this technology, as outlined by Dstl. Traumatic brain injury [TBI] is a big problem for the military, especially because it can be difficult to spot in the field and if left untreated, it can have long-term effects.”
“Ultrasound is not normally used for imaging the brain, but we hope to prove through further investigations that it is a viable method of making an early diagnosis of head injury whilst in the field,” she adds.
“Battlefield medics will not have CT or MRI scanners which are bulky and expensive, but they are likely to have ultrasound equipment already, so it is a case of extending the use of the kit they already have.”
The treatment has civilian applications as well. It will give access to cutting edge TBI treatment to rural area hospitals without in-house brain injury specialists. It will also allow emergency responders to jump-start the diagnosis and treatment process while en-route to the hospital. These steps will reduce the damage caused by the injuries and improve the quality of patients’ lives.
David Christensen is a brain injury expert at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He represents TBI victims in auto accident claims, making sure they get the coverage they need. If you have suffered a brain injury, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.