We’ve already seen the way brain injuries are diagnosed and treated improve significantly over the years. But what’s next on the horizon when it comes to brain injury technology?
A brain injury can cause someone’s life to be flipped upside down in an instant. A traumatic brain injury can lead to issues with mobility, coordination and cognition, with the most severe cases even leading to forms of paralysis.
It goes without saying, then, that diagnosing and treating brain injuries in the right way is absolutely critical. The correct approach, and the help of a brain injury solicitor, could mean the victim is able to move on with their life swiftly and with no further complications.
The complex and intricate nature of the brain means that sophisticated technologies are constantly being produced to tackle the issue of diagnosing and treating injuries. As you’ll soon find out, there are plenty of brand-new technologies that are currently in development. Take a look.
How are Brain Injuries Currently Diagnosed?
Currently, the process for diagnosing a brain injury is fairly simple. Anyone attending A&E with a suspected head injury will be given what’s known as a CT scan. A CT, or computerised tomography, scan uses X-rays and a computer to put together detailed images from inside the body.
The CT scan for a head injury produces an image from inside the head and shows whether there is any bleeding or swelling on the brain. Healthcare professionals then use the Glasgow Coma Scale (CGS) to assess the individual’s condition.
The CGS assesses someone on their verbal responses, physical movements and how easily they are able to open your eyes.
How are Brain Injuries Going to be Diagnosed?
While CT scans certainly have their benefits – primarily due to the short amount of time they take and the high-quality images they produce – there are ways in which the general diagnosis of head injuries can be further improved. Here’s how:
Black Box Biometric Sensors
One example of a technology that can improve the diagnosis of brain injuries is from Black Box Biometrics. They are developing advanced sensor systems that can instantly measure the unseen impact of concussive forces that cause traumatic brain injuries.
One of their innovations is the Linux Impact Assessment System (IAS), which is a wearable device that fits in a headband or skull cap that monitors athletes. IAS measures how hard and how many times an athlete suffers an impact to the head, with data being sent to a paired smartphone or tablet for analysis.
Individual Cell Analysis
Scientists have been exploring the potential of simultaneously assessing individual cells and genes. Using mice, a sequencing technique is used to analyse the gene activity of a cell, with a particular focus on cells in the hippocampus, the region involved in learning and memory. This means scientists can pinpoint which genes need to be treated with specific therapies.
How Are Brain Injuries Currently Treated?
People with severe head injuries will usually undergo neurosurgery to make sure that their condition is stabilised. Neurosurgery will normally take place if someone has suffered a:
- Haemorrhage (severe bleeding causing pressure on the brain)
- Haematoma (a blood clot)
- Cerebral contusions (bruising of the brain tissue)
- Skull fracture
As with any invasive surgery, neurosurgery on the brain carries significant risk and there is no guarantee that it will be successful. This means someone may be put under severe stress with little improvement in their condition.
How Will Brain Injuries be Treated in Future?
For that reason, there have been significant steps towards researching non-invasive treatment methods for brain injuries.
Thomas Sanderson, an associate professor of emergency medicine and molecular and integrative physiology at Michigan Medicine, claims that the mitochondria appear to be a common contributor to brain injuries.
His research team have proposed a non-invasive therapy that uses light wave-lengths to target mitochondria and alter the molecular events that happen inside cells during a brain injury.
Valproic acid is a type of mediation generally used to treat patients with epilepsy and psychiatric disorders. It’s currently hoped that it could also be used to help treat traumatic brain injuries.
A project is being funded to investigate whether valproic acid is capable of treating the symptoms associated with brain injuries. This will avoid the need for surgery in certain circumstances.
What Technologies for Brain Injury Rehabilitation Are Already Available?
Depending on the relative severity of a brain injury, the rehabilitation process can vary significantly. Anyone who has undergone neurosurgery will likely be held in an Intensive Care Unit for their immediate recovery, which will often include being put on a ventilator.
Beyond this, someone recovering from neurosurgery will then be placed in a high-dependency unit before being discharged.
The recovery and rehabilitation programme will then be tailored to each individual’s needs. Standard medical advice will always be given (not drinking, playing contact sports etc.), but there may also be sessions of physiotherapy, or occupational therapy if the individual has suffered a significant change to their cognition or physical capabilities.
What Technologies for Brain Injury Rehabilitation Will There Be?
The time it takes to full recover from a brain injury will, of course, depend on the circumstances. That said, there are a number of technologies being trialled which could help to speed up the process.
Measuring Systolic Blood Pressure
Systolic blood pressure indicates the amount of pressure in the arteries when the heart pushes blood through the arteries to the rest of the body. When there is a drop in systolic blood pressure, this can worsen the effects of a brain injury, which will bring a halt to the rehabilitation process.
Researchers have been attempting to develop devices for anyone who has suffered a brain injury that automates the process of monitoring blood pressure, keeping it at a stable level for brain injury management.
Biodex Balance Machine
The Biodex Balance Machine allows physiotherapists to help individuals shift their balance appropriately, as well as determining where they are placing the majority of their weight.
The small platform can be kept static or have varying tensions, with accompanying monitors providing real time information that therapists can use to address areas of concern. They can then plan out a full rehabilitation plan that it carefully tailored to the individual’s needs.
Are There Any More Brain Injury Technologies That Need to be Discussed?
This post is only really scratching the surface of what medical technologies are out there for the treatment of brain injuries. This goes to show how much further we can go in terms of improving both diagnosis and treatment.
With that in mind, have you got any more examples of emerging technologies for treating brain injuries? Feel free to leave a comment below so we can extend the conversation further!