Some 10 million people around the world seek treatment for head trauma every year, and traumatic brain injury (TBI) is predicted to become the world's third leading cause of death and disability by 2020.
The Infrascanner Model 2000, a portable intracranial hematoma detector, just may put a dent in the death rate if it helps to quickly spot potential brain bleeds in TBI victims.
The handheld device, recently approved for both military and civilian use by the FDA, uses near-infrared (NIR) tech on eight different points of the brain. Because there is a higher concentration of hemoglobin in a hematoma than in normal brain tissue, they absorb NIR light differently, and the device looks for that difference.
The scanner was found in a clinical trial to be inferior to an actual CT scan, so it is meant to screen for bleeds and not to be used in place of CT.
InfraScan, the medical device company that developed it, lists potential uses as frequent monitoring of hospitalized patients with head injuries; screening of intoxicated patients where neurological evaluation is difficult or unreliable; screening for mass-casualty events such as bomb blasts; fast triage in ambulances; and in determining whether to evacuate players of high-contact sports such as boxing, football, soccer, and rugby.
The Model 2000 improves on its Model 1000 predecessor by integrating the processing, control, and display functions into the device itself instead of relying on a separate sensor and PDA. It's also been "ruggedized" to withstand rougher treatment, and can now rely on backup AA batteries instead of just the rechargeable power pack.