New technology IDs brain trauma via wireless signals

A new study published in PLOS One highlights how wireless signals could transform brain trauma diagnostics, via new technology developed at the University of California, Berkeley--in the form of a coil-like device that fits around one's head like a helmet.

The device uses the technology of Volumetric Electromagnetic Phase Shift Spectroscopy, which analyzes data from low energy, electromagnetic waves, according to the study's authors, led by Boris Rubinsky, a professor of the Graduate School at UC Berkeley's Department of Mechanical Engineering.

"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," César González, a professor at the National Polytechnic Institute's Superior School of Medicine in Mexico who also was involved with the research, said, according to an announcement. "This technology is inexpensive, it can be used in economically disadvantaged parts of the world and in rural areas that lack industrial infrastructure, and it may substantially reduce the cost and change the paradigm of medical diagnostics. We have also shown that the technology could be combined with cell phones for remote diagnostics."

The study involved 46 healthy adults, ages 18 to 48, and eight patients with brain damage, ages 27 to 70.

Two coils were fastened into a helmet-like device; one coil acts as a radio emitter and the other serves as the receiver. Electromagnetic signals were broadcast through the brain from the emitter to the receiver.

GigaOM notes that the device looks at perturbations made by the brain tissue in a weak electromagnetic field, so if excess fluid is there because of swelling or bleeding, there are blips in the conductivity. This helps in determining the need for time-sensitive treatment.

To learn more:
- read the study in PLOS One
- read the announcement from UC Berkeley
- read the article in GigaOM

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