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Electrode helmet for rapid stroke diagnosis shows promising results

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A helmet of electrodes can help to distinguish between a cerebral infarction and a cerebral haemorrhage. Rapid diagnosis, even in the ambulance, has a strong impact on the patient’s prognosis. The sooner that treatment is initiated to dissolve a blockage, the better the results.

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Electrode helmet for rapid stroke diagnosis shows promising results

  1. 1. Electrode helmet for rapid stroke diagnosis shows promising results A stroke can be the result of a clot in a blood vessel supplying the brain or bleeding in the brain tissue itself. The only proven form of acute treatment for a clot is to dissolve it. The effectiveness of thromboly- sis is greatest immediately after the clot forms, but gradually declines over the next four and half hours. However, thrombolysis can be life-threatening for patients with a cerebral haemorrhage and so it can- not be administered before an infarction has been diagnosed. So far the only way of distinguishing be- tween a haemorrhage and an infarction is by magnetic computer-assisted tomography, which can be carried out in major hospitals only. Part of ambulance equipment An electrode helmet, intended for quick stroke di- agnosis in an ambulance, has been studied in the SalWe Mind and Body programme. The University of Helsinki, Colorado State University and the Techni- cal University of Denmark participated in the pro- ject alongside GE Healthcare Finland, the industrial partner. “The helmet uses an imaging technology called elec- trical impedance tomography. An alternating current of the right frequency is applied to the cranium via electrodes embedded in the helmet and the returning signal is measured,” says Samuli Siltanen, Professor of SalWe - the Enabler of Joint Research in Health and Wellbeing A helmet of electrodes, studied in the SalWe Mind and Body programme, can help to distinguish between a cerebral infarction and a cerebral haemorrhage. Rapid diagnosis, even in the ambulance, has a strong impact on the patient’s prognosis. The sooner that treatment is initiated to dissolve a blockage, the better the results.
  2. 2. Industrial Mathematics at the University of Helsinki, who has been the project leader. “From the brain conductivity readings, a three-dimen- sional image can be mathematically constructed of the brain tissue, in which a haemorrhage looks very Impedance tomography of the brain has been studied for about four years, particularly in the past two. The results have been promising. Sizeable markets Siltanen expects a helmet for use in ambulances to be sales are considerable. Finland alone has about 1,000 ambulances, the United States about 48,000. Moreover, certain groups of sports people, such as - stant tests that a helmet allows. Complex mathematics Siltanen says that, although similar projects have been carried out elsewhere, the mathematics has not been “To derive a three-dimensional image is very complex.” It is an inverse problem, where the outcome is known but the precise causes are not. Mathematics is needed to determine the causes, in this case biological proper- ties that cannot be directly measured. “It is harmless and cheap to probe the human body with electricity and record conductivity in different parts, but information is not easily extracted from the x-rays, for example, travel only in straight lines.” Solutions to this non-linear inverse problem have been developed by professors Jennifer Mueller of Colorado, Kim Knudsen of Denmark and Siltanen. “The challenge has been to derive a big picture from small data.” Although great advances have been made, more work is needed to develop algorithms to build a picture of the cranium from the information yielded from a limited number of electrodes. Tangible support from SalWe “Finance from SalWe was of vital importance. This technology would certainly not have advanced so well without it,” says Samuli Siltanen. “SalWe offered a concrete way of combining the in- house work of GE Healthcare with the methods of my research team.” SalWe - the Enabler of Joint Research in Health and Wellbeing 06/2014 More information Samuli Siltanen professor University of Helsinki +358 40 594 3560 Kimmo Uutela principal engineer GE Healthcare Finland Oy kimmo.uutela@ge.com +358 10 394 3353

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