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Portable brain scanner provides early detection possibilities

A new method to diagnose and treat traumatic brain injury is quickly approaching and may soon be available for patients in New Jersey. As traumatic brain injury is responsible for nearly 2,500 deaths in the U.S. annually and over 35,000 hospitalizations, the new diagnostic appliance is welcomed in the medical community.

The device uses infrared waves to scan the brain for injury. Referred to as Near Infrared Spectroscopy, or NIRS, the scope can produce a reasonable image of the outer portion of the brain and measure brain activity. As an optical scanner, it is non-invasive and requires no incision into the skull; in addition, infrared waves have no side effects.

Though NIRS imaging has been used for several years in hospitals, newer scopes are portable. This means that they may be transported to an accident location. Operation of the scope at the accident scene has several advantages. If the machine detects a brain injury, emergency medical technicians can adopt proper protocols for initial treatment and transport of the accident victim. Technology should become readily available for imaging to be viewed in real time by hospital medical personnel.

Since operating the scope is non-invasive, there is little risk of further injury while operating it. Finally, the system is far less expensive than a CT, MRI or PET scan. In this respect, NIRS can be utilized to obviate the need for further expensive testing.

When a client suspects they have an undiagnosed head injury, personal injury attorneys may recommend that a certain test be conducted. As brain injuries are sometimes overlooked during treatment, a recommendation by a personal injury lawyer to obtain an NIRS test is a possibility. Determining the presence of a brain injury may be important in a lawsuit against the party responsible for the injury.

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