Check your head

November 1, 2013
This article appeared in Berkeley Engineer magazine, Fall 2013

Wireless device to diagnose brain injuriesGraphic courtesy the researchersWhen it comes to brain injuries, an accurate diagnosis and timely treatment are critical to a patient’s prognosis. Yet the symptoms can be difficult to spot, and for much of the world’s population, advanced medical imaging can be costly or inaccessible. To address this need, researchers have developed affordable technology that uses wireless signals to diagnose brain injuries in real time. Their helmet-like device—which analyzes data from low-energy, electromagnetic waves, similar to those that relay radio and mobile signals—is able to distinguish healthy patients from those with brain damage. In a pilot clinical study, results from the device matched those from computed tomography (CT) scans, with data for bleeding distinct from that for swelling. The team was led by mechanical engineering professor Boris Rubinsky, in collaboration with César A. González, professor at Mexico’s Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Escuela Superior de Medicina.