Bluetooth Could Save Stroke Victims - UK Leads the Way As Work Begins To Develop Compact Brain Scanner
15 August 2005
Action Medical Research has said that one of its talented young researchers is working on a brain scanner that could revolutionize stroke care.
Ambulance crews would be able to make an immediate assessment of stroke patients using the portable scanner, which would be linked to an on-board computer using Bluetooth wireless technology.
This technological advance would allow life-saving treatment to be given before the patient reaches hospital.
The availability of new clot-busting drugs means that some stroke patients who are treated within three hours of their attack can make a full recovery.
However, since strokes may be caused by either a bleed or a blood clot within the brain, doctors need to be absolutely sure of the cause prior to treatment because in some instances administering a clot-busting drug could make the damage worse.
Currently the best way to be certain is for the patient to have an MRI or CT scan – which takes valuable time at a point where every second counts in keeping brain damage to a minimum.
Dr Alistair McEwan, who has a background in Bluetooth technology, has just been awarded a prestigious grant of £138,629 by Action Medical Research to help develop a quick to use, portable system that resolves this problem.
With over 250,000 people affected by strokes at any one time, the Australian born researcher is hoping that his work will help to reduce the numbers affected by the largest single cause of severe disability in the UK.
Dr McEwan who is based at University College London said, “I am proud that Action Medical Research has chosen to highlight the importance of my work with this award.
“The charity is renowned within the medical profession for supporting only the very best in research – so I feel hugely honoured to be alongside some of the best known, cutting edge research teams.
“I am developing a lightweight, portable and, very importantly, cheap to operate system that uses Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) to detect changes or abnormalities in the brain.
“My plan is to design a device that can be simply placed on the patient’s head to quickly provide an accurate assessment to allow treatment to start immediately.
“For strokes, speed is really of the essence so beginning treatment as soon as possible will save lives and unnecessary brain damage.
“The uses are widespread – initially I am concentrating on the diagnosis of strokes and epileptic seizures, however it is feasible that this technology could be used in the imaging of migraines, tumours, heart, lung and liver conditions.
“This is just the beginning – it’s possible, for example, that images could be sent over the internet to the hospital from the ambulance - and be reported by a radiologist - so that the hospital can be prepared for the patient before they arrive.
“It’s a very exciting field to be working in.”
Andrew Proctor from Action Medical Research added, “The charity seeks to fund the very best in research.
“Our Research Training Fellowships are awarded to the very brightest and most talented doctors and scientists like Dr McEwan early in their research careers.
“We believe that his work will be ground-breaking, and in the future may save many lives and improve the quality of care for those who have suffered strokes or epileptic attacks.
“The Action Medical Research Training Fellows are young doctors and scientists who have a tremendous future in medicine and we hope they will be making amazing advances that will have a positive impact on all our lives well into the future.
“Congratulations to Dr McEwan on his work to date and for an exciting and innovative approach to patient care.”
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