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Portable device could be key to rapid stroke treatment

posted 26 Dec 2012, 13:34 by Mpelembe   [ updated 26 Dec 2012, 13:35 ]

Israeli doctors have developed a portable device which they say can detect strokes, the third biggest killer in the western world. The prototype, worn on patients' heads, is designed to identify discrepancies in brainwave patterns that could signal an impending stroke.

TEL AVIVISRAEL (NOVEMBER 12, 2012) (REUTERS) -  Israeli doctors have developed a portable device that monitors brain waves and identifies any discrepancies in their pattern. They believe the device, currently in prototype form, will allow them to detect future strokes in patients who have recently experienced one and are thought vulnerable to another attack.

Using technology similar to that found in the common electroencephalogram (EEG) machine, the prototype device is fitted on to a patient's head and monitors their brain waves. Its creators say it provides medical personnel with real-time information, allowing them to diagnose and treat high-risk patients in time to prevent or minimise potential brain damage.

A stroke, or cerebrovascular accident (CVA), is the rapid loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain.

Israeli company Neurokeeper says the device uses an algorithm to identify and locate the stroke. A small-scale clinical trial showed the technology capable of detecting the difference between a patient who had suffered a stroke and one who hadn't.

Shay Bar-HaimNeurokeeper CEO, said the lightweight device could allow potential sufferers to recognise the signs of an approaching stroke while at home and seek medical help before it happens. The at high risk include previous stroke sufferers and those diagnosed with severe carotid stenosis, a narrowing of the carotid artery which supplies blood to the brain.

"Our device detects automatically a stroke event and alerts either in the home environment the patient himself or his family, or in the hospital environment the medical staff, of a potential ischemic attack and allows the patients to get to the hospital early and get treated early," said Bar-Haim.

At 200 USD per device, Bar-Haim says it is cheaper than other existing products already on the market, and has other advantages.

"There are several devices out there, some are even in use but none of them are both portable, can continuously monitor the patient, are cheap and can give a picture of the whole brain," he said.

Scientific advisor to Neurokeeper is Professor Natan Bornstein, head of the stroke unit at the department of neurology at Sackler School of Medicine, as well as being Vice President of the World Stroke Organisation. "This is a very innovative device and technology and also approach to prevent stroke," he said.

"In very high risk sub-group of patients it will be a breakthrough device that may help us, the physician, as well as the patient, of course, to identify all this unnecessary events," he added.

The issue of stroke prevention has great significance in Israel, since former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke in January 2006. Shaon had suffered a mild stroke, a relatively unusual type called a paradoxical embolism, 19 days earlier and discharged himself from hospital within two days . The second stroke has left him in a persistent vegetative state ever since and many Israelis have questioned whether doctors could have detected and treated their former leader more effectively.

Within a year and a half, the Neurokeeper team hope to conduct a large-scale clinical trial. If successful, Bar-Haim hopes to apply for US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance by the end of 2014.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the western world. The treatment paradigm is "the sooner you treat the better", a problem when the event happens during sleep in 20 percent of cases and does not cause pain.