Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley and the National Polytechnic Institute’s Superior School of Medicine in Mexico are developing a type of non-invasive and wireless brain scanning helmet that may one day lead to simpler diagnoses of various brain conditions.
The team’s prototype have already been tested on dozens of normal as well as people with brain injuries, and the results are that the helmet does provide a good amount of correlating data in regards to brain activities. For instance, the helmet can provide distinct data signal from brains that are swelling versus brains that are bleeding.
The non-invasive data stream is obtained through the use of two coils on the helmet. One of the coils is responsible for emitting radio signals, and the other act as the receiver. The two coils work together as electromagnetic signals traverse through the brain from the emitter to the receiver.
“We have adjusted the coils so that if the brain works perfectly, we have a clean signal,” said Professor Boris Rubinsky, one of the team members. “Whenever there are interferences in the functioning of the brain, we detect them as changes in the received signal. We can tell from the changes, or ‘noises,’ what the brain injury is.”
Furthermore, the radio waves are extremely weak, similar to that of standing in a room with the radio of the TV turned on.
Along with the helmet’s non-invasive benefit, the technology may also have an impact in medical care for those who do not have access to the medical facilities or technology for comprehensive brain care.
“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,” said Professor Cesar Gonzalez. “This technology is inexpensive, it can be used in economically disadvantaged parts of the world and in rural areas that lack industrial infrastructures, 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.”
What’s even more impressive about the helmet is that it can obtain data that is consistent with that of computerized tomography (CT) scans.
Currently, there isn’t an exact number on how much the helmet will cost to manufacture, but if it’s as affordable and applicable as the researchers are claiming it to be then brain analysis for the masses may become a reality soon.