Researchers in the Netherlands have developed a portable system that can recognize the distinctive electrical signals in the brain associated with large ischaemic strokes. Led by Jonathan Coutinho at the University of Amsterdam, the team has successfully tested their brainwave cap in ambulances, potentially paving the way for widespread use.
Ischaemic strokes occur when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to part of the brain, leading to a serious condition that requires immediate treatment. Current imaging techniques such as X-ray computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used to determine the type and severity of stroke a patient is experiencing. However, diagnosis before reaching the hospital has proven challenging.
Coutinho’s team took a different approach by monitoring patients’ brainwaves. Brainwaves are rhythmic patterns in electrical activity caused by the synchronized oscillations of neurons in the brain. By using electroencephalography (EEG), where electrodes contact the scalp and monitor brain signals, they were able to detect unique brainwave patterns associated with stroke symptoms.
The researchers altered the design of the EEG cap to specifically detect these stroke-related brainwave signals. Through a four-year study involving over 400 patients in ambulances, the brainwave cap accurately identified patients with large ischemic strokes. This breakthrough allows for direct routing of these patients to the appropriate hospital for prompt treatment, potentially saving lives.
While the brainwave cap still requires further improvements before it can be used in ambulances, the initial results are promising. The research team is confident in the cap’s potential to aid in stroke diagnosis and mitigate the risk of permanent brain damage.
What is an ischaemic stroke?
An ischaemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to part of the brain, leading to a serious condition that requires immediate treatment.
How are strokes currently diagnosed?
Strokes are typically diagnosed using medical imaging techniques such as X-ray computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
What is electroencephalography (EEG)?
Electroencephalography (EEG) is a technique that involves monitoring the brain’s electrical signals in real-time using electrodes placed on the scalp.
How does the brainwave cap work?
The brainwave cap is an altered version of the EEG cap that is designed to detect unique brainwave patterns associated with stroke symptoms. By monitoring these patterns, the cap can accurately identify the presence of an ischaemic stroke and indicate the size of the blocked blood vessel.
What are the potential benefits of the brainwave cap?
The brainwave cap has the potential to save lives by allowing for quicker and more accurate diagnosis of large ischaemic strokes. Patients can be routed directly to the appropriate hospital, minimizing the risk of permanent brain damage.