Science and Tech


Microwave Helmet Can Tell If You've Had a Stroke

The microwave helmet can quickly detect the type of stroke a person has had, and a quicker diagnosis could save lives.
Posted at 9:30 AM, Jun 17, 2014

It's being called a microwave helmet, and it probably doesn't look like you think it does. (Via Flickr / Chris KellyOleg.)

BBC reports the microwave helmet can determine if a person has had a stroke, and the device could prove to be lifesaving because of a faster diagnosis. 

"​The wearable cap bounces microwaves off the brain to determine whether there has been a bleed or clot deep inside." (Via BBC)

This technology could save many lives — strokes are currently a leading cause of death in the United States, killing 130,000 each year, according to the CDC.

EmaxHealth notes, "It is capable of telling [the difference between] a stroke that is caused by a clot compared to one that is caused by bleeding."

Now, that's a big deal because treatment varies based on what type of stroke someone has had — and figuring that out is often one cause of slower treatment.

"Most of the strokes that we see are what we call ischemic strokes and that means the oxygen has been cut off and usually that's been caused because there has been a blood clot somewhere in the brain. Twenty percent of the strokes that we see are called hemorrhagic strokes." (Via CTV)

The device developed in Sweden could quickly predict the type of stroke and speed up treatment.

Something NPR says is crucial, noting best results are seen if treatment starts less than 90 minutes after the onset of the stroke. As for this device, the designer told NPR it was inspired by research used to determined the effect cell phone radiation has on the brain. 

"We realized that when you change the brain it changes the wave patterns from mobile phones going through the brain, and we looked into the possibility that these wave patterns could detect brain trauma."

Currently, doctors rely on CT scans to determine treatment for those who have had a stroke. Those machines aren't small and portable like the microwave helmet. (Via The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne)

So far in studies, the microwave helmet has been tested on 45 stroke patients. Further trials still need to be done, and ambulance trials begin this autumn.