The brain is a vital organ of the human body, but it can also be vulnerable to injury. This necessitates easy and rapid screening to direct effective treatments. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first portable device capable of detecting bleeding in the brain, which can be fatal. Indeed, the battlefield corpsmen and medical providers are blessed with this new technology. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) initiated and funded the research on the Infrascanner.
This hand-held, battery-activated medical technology exposes intracranial hematomas following an injury. This can help in saving the lives of sailors and marines who are injured at sea or battlefields that are distant from screening machines found in hospitals. Furthermore, it is important to detect brain trauma as early as possible, as expressed by experts. According to Theresa Rankin, a traumatic brain injury survivor working with Brain Injury Services, “When brain injury occurs, every moment without an accurate assessment can determine a person’s risk of severe injury or death due to brain bleed.”
Several veterans and military families are affected by traumatic brain injury. The Centers for Disease Control expressed that TBI’s top-most culprit in war zones is blasts. TBI has devastating consequences on memory and reasoning, sensory perception, communication capability, and emotional health. This can further lead to higher risk for unpredictable epileptic seizures and premature onset of brain diseases usually linked with age. The CDC estimates 50, 000 Americans will die out of the 1.4 million TBI-diagnosed annually.
Since heavy CT (computed tomography) machines are not usually carried aboard ships in the frigate or destroyer class or in the field with the Marines, the infranscanner can be very beneficial to the DON (Department of the Navy). Dr. Michael Given, ONR’s program manager for expeditionary medicine (combat casualty care), articulated that this portable device can be truly useful and imperative for naval soldiers, on ship or land, because of they are too far from state of the art clinical care. Furthermore, this technology is intended for fast and simple use.
Dr. Given explained that the whole scan can be done in a minute and the procedure is simple. It features a red-green lighted spot kind of display. If it is red, the person has a brain bleed while if it is green, everything is okay. He added that there are 3 sizes of red dots which can verify if bleeding is progressing. Moreover, this device can detect near-infrared light penetrating the skull. The light is unusually absorbed with presence of pooled blood from hematomas, compared with oxygenated blood normally circulating in blood vessels. Those who are detected with hematoma would be sent right away to superior medical facilities, knowing that hematomas can be very dangerous if treatment is delayed. This can lead to cerebral hemorrhage. Furthermore, people might take aspirin because they have a headache; this can lead to coagulation resulting to more bleeding.
Dr. Baruch Ben Dor, president of Philadelphia’s InfraScan responsible for the Infrascanner’s creation, uttered that there is already a plan via ONR in moving the technology to field evaluation with the Marine Corps Systems Command. A version of the technology that equalizes military standards for water, sand, and corrosion resistance is being tested and “ruggedized” by the Marines.
Rankin, founder of brainlinemilitary.org, admired the ONR’s study. Finally, she stated, “Clearly, this naval medical technology will have a global impact because the field of neurotrauma continues to struggle with the lack of portable transformative diagnostic technology”. Indeed, a remarkable standard of excellence is being established by the ONR.