By Debbie Gregory.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a disruption of brain function resulting from a blow or jolt to the head or penetrating head injury. Unfortunately, Traumatic Brain Injuries often occurs on the battlefield and is one of the main wounds of war injuring our troops.
The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have placed an increased awareness on TBI. It has been difficult to obtain an accurate rate and severity of deployment related TBIs that our service members are experiencing. As such, there is a critical need to develop a rapid method to diagnose TBI on the battlefield.
Now there is a device that can detect TBI in the battlefield. The Infrascanner Model 2000 was developed based on a prior model with specifications of the US Marine Corps and in partnership with the US Navy. This Infrascanner Model 2000 unit is a small, portable hand held device that includes a sensor and a cradle. The sensor includes an eye safe NIR diode laser and optical detector. The detector signal is digitized and analyzed by a single board computer in the sensor. The 2000 model is held against the patient’s head in eight pre-determined locations. The device’s optical detector is able to differentiate between circulating blood and pooled blood such as a hematoma.
Due to the challenges of war, TBI, it has been extremely difficult to get a handle on the rate of TBIs experienced during a deployment. It is also hard to determine the severity of these TBIs or the incidence of multiple TBIs that our service members are experiencing. This is because there is not an easy method to determine if the brain has occurred.
Along with its obvious military applications, the Infrascanner Model 2000 is also intended for use by civilians in fields such as sports. Each year, an estimated 1.5 million people in the United States, and 10 million people worldwide, seek medical treatment for head trauma. Intracranial hematomas resulting from a traumatic brain injury are life-threatening. This condition has been reported as the primary injury in 40 percent of patients with severe head injury. The rate of successful treatment improves with a timely diagnosis and intervention.
The FDA approved Infrascanner 2000 in 2011. It functions as a triage measure in order to diagnose the need for immediate intervention before proper hospital care is dispensed. It takes approximately two minutes for each rapid CT screening session. When minutes count, providing a timely and accurate diagnosis to our service members on the battlefield will save lives. This is just another example of leading edge military medicine.