A group of students at Rice University has developed a noninvasive monitoring system for intracranial pressure in infants. High intracranial pressure, which affects more than 400,000 infants every year, can be caused by brain trauma and is an indicator of hydrocephalus. The device they developed, dubbed Bend-Aid, is a combination of an adhesive bandage and a specialized sensor. The system is more accurate than current subjective methods employed by physicians.
“What physicians usually do is feel the soft spot where the skull hasn’t fused together yet. If it’s tense, that’s a sign of higher pressure. If it’s sunken, it’s low pressure. But it’s really subjective between doctors and previous research showed it’s not very accurate," says Patricia Thai, a senior at Rice University's Brown School of Engineering. “There’s a need for a quantitative and continuous method to measure pressure in the skulls of infants, to see changes in ICP over time.”
From the Rice University article: "The team embedded a soft, ribbon-like sensor with a 2.2-inch working length into a bandage that, when affixed to the baby’s head, reports to a data processor when bent in or out by the changing shape of the soft spot, called the fontanelle. The fontanelle generally closes after 18 months as the skull plates fuse.
“From our literature search, we discovered there is a correlation of ICP levels within the skull space and the bending level of the fontanelle,” Lu said. The team used that data to build a mathematical model that correlates the sensor’s bending angle to standard measures of ICP.
The sensor feeds a processing unit that displays the numerical pressure level on an LCD screen. The system also stores data on an external SD card for later interpretation by other medical professionals."
Read more about the intracranial pressure monitor for infants at Rice University.