This Mobile Brain Scanner Promises to Assess Injuries Where CT Scans Can’t

By Michael Belfiore

Published: July 17, 2018

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BrainScope One aims to help diagnose traumatic brain injury (TBI) in circumstances where a CT scan is impractical. It combines smartphone software with a disposable electrode headpiece.

① Attach
A medical technician or nurse places electrodes on a patient’s forehead and temples and around the ears.
② Diagnose
The device records an electroencephalogram in about five minutes. Software then calculates the likelihood of structural brain damage or functional impairment based on patterns of deviation from a database of healthy brain signals.
Innovator: Michael Singer, age 56, chief executive officer of BrainScope Co., a 50-employee company in Bethesda, Md.
Origin: BrainScope was spun out of a predecessor company in 2006. Singer became CEO in 2008 and focused the company on TBI.
Funding: BrainScope has raised about $60 million in venture capital and booked about $30 million in Pentagon contracts.
Market: Singer is pitching his gear for use by military units, sports teams, urgent care clinics, and emergency rooms.
Early Tests: Clinical trials have shown that BrainScope One can indicate the presence or absence of brain injury with 98 percent accuracy and could reduce the rate of unnecessary CT scans by about a third. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the $15,000 device in 2016, and it’s now in use at about 150 locations across the U.S., Singer says.
Next Steps: Singer says the BrainScope will be cheaper and more widely available next year and in the future may be able to diagnose conditions such as stroke. Professor Rosanne Naunheim, whose emergency medicine department at Washington University in St. Louis tested BrainScope One earlier this year, says such capabilities would take it a step beyond CT scans in terms of function, not just mobility.

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