Tuesday, 08 December 2020 10:19

Researchers develop device to help prevent seizures in patients

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Researchers develop device to help prevent seizures in patients Image by Pasi Mäenpää from Pixabay

Researchers from Australia's national science agency, the CSIRO, say they have developed new implantable devices with machine learning that can help to prevent seizures and monitor patients after brain surgery.

A statement from the agency said the scientists involved would use a $1 million Australian Government grant given to the firm Anatomics to develop what they called "a smart helmet to monitor brain swelling in stroke and traumatic brain injury patients".

Dr Umut Guvenc, a researcher at CSIRO's digital arm Data 61, pointed out that traumatic brain injuries affected more than 69 million people globally, including 700,000 Australians.

One in three of those affected was likely to develop chronic epilepsy due to the high number of seizures.

"Monitoring brain activity post-surgery is especially critical to a patient's recovery as seizures can regularly occur, often leading to patients developing epilepsy," Dr Guvenc said.

"These seizures are often difficult to detect, with current monitoring techniques only able to be used in a hospital using bulky devices for less than 24 hours, providing a brief snapshot of brain activity during that time only.

brainimplant

"This new method can continuously monitor brain activity wirelessly, allowing the patient to be mobile, comfortable and more socially active."

The device was trained using data from Monash University and can spot even the tiniest seizure, before it sends the data from the "helmet" to the doctor.

Peter Marendy, a senior research engineer at Data61, said: "Information provided by the implants can be used to inform clinicians about the patient's brain activity and inform decisions regarding the administering of drugs.

"The combination of brain swelling, surgery timing and patient outcome data will enable further study on the ideal time to perform a reconstructive cranioplasty to achieve the best patient outcome – research that will ultimately influence future medical decisions."

Dr Ganesha Thayaparan, an R&D fellow at Anatomics, said: "Anatomics' ongoing collaboration with CSIRO has produced a number of medical world-firsts, including additively manufactured patient-specific titanium implants.

"The 'smart helmet' project builds upon our existing SkullPro technology to develop a remote sensing platform to monitor the injured brain following a decompressive craniectomy."

The research was enabled by CSIRO's Probing Biosystems Future Science Platform, which provided the initial funding.

Graphic courtesy CSIRO


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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