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Smart Brain-Wave Cap Diagnoses Stroke in Ambulance and Sends Patients to Correct Hospital

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 19 Oct 2023
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Image: The smart brain-wave cap recognizes stroke before the patient reaches the hospital (Photo courtesy of Amsterdam UMC)
Image: The smart brain-wave cap recognizes stroke before the patient reaches the hospital (Photo courtesy of Amsterdam UMC)

Each year, ischemic strokes, which happen when a blood clot blocks a brain blood vessel, affect millions of people globally. Swift intervention is essential to stave off long-term disability or death due to a part of the brain receiving no or insufficient blood after the stroke. Now, a novel brain-wave cap enables stroke diagnosis right inside an ambulance, speeding up the time to appropriate treatment.

Neurologists at Amsterdam UMC (Amsterdam, Netherlands) have invented the brain-wave cap which enables an EEG (brain wave test) to be performed in the ambulance. This EEG test can identify whether the stroke is ischemic and classify the size of the blocked blood vessel in the brain. The size of the blockage guides the course of treatment: if it's a small ischemic stroke, blood thinners are administered; for a large ischemic stroke, surgical removal of the clot at a specialized hospital is necessary.

From 2018 to 2022, this innovative brain-wave cap underwent testing in 12 ambulances across the Netherlands, collecting data from nearly 400 patients. The study found that the cap can very accurately identify patients suffering from a large ischemic stroke. Currently, a follow-up study named AI-STROKE is in progress to collect more data for creating an algorithm to further improve the detection of large ischemic strokes when the patient is being transported in an ambulance.

"When it comes to stroke, time is literally brain. The sooner we start the right treatment, the better the outcome. If the diagnosis is already clear in the ambulance, the patient can be routed directly to the right hospital, which saves valuable time," said neurologist Jonathan Coutinho from Amsterdam UMC, one of the inventors of the brain-wave cap.

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