Brain injury detection device project at UMass Amherst receives funds


Nianqiang Wu, the Armstrong-Siadat Endowed Professor in Chemical Engineering at UMass Amherst. Image courtesy of UMass Amherst.

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – UMass Amherst research project to create a Portable Brain Injury Sensor received a grant for $3.4-million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

According to a statement from UMass Amherst, the proposed device would allow a person to quickly diagnose the severity of a brain injury from a drop of blood. Designed in a similar fashion as a blood glucose test system used by diabetics, the optical sensor used in this device consists of a sensitive test strip and a portable reader to record the test results.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are commonly caused by a violent blow or jolt to the head. They are commonly caused by falls, car accidents, assaults and sports injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 50,000 people die from TBI-related cases each year in the U.S. and 5.3 million people live with disabilities caused by TBI. Current systems used to test for TBIs consists of multiple tests over time which prevent them from being quick or field ready.

“Currently blood tests require a tube of blood from venipuncture and take hours or days to get the test reports from a central laboratory,” says Nianqiang Wu, the Armstrong-Siadat Endowed Professor in Chemical Engineering at UMass Amherst and principal investigator on the project. “This device can be read with a portable reader by a layperson at emergency rooms, clinics, football [fields], [playing] courts and at home.”

The device, according to UMass Amherst, will be able to give detailed results within 25 minutes. If the device can be made it is reported to “change practice in diagnosis of traumatic brain injury in the emergency departments and pre-hospital settings.”

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