Innovation That Matters

BrainCapture's portable technology reads electrical activity in the brain | Photo source Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

Low-cost diagnostic equipment for epilepsy

Health & Wellbeing

The cheap and mobile equipment is designed for use in developing countries, where a lack of capacity for diagnosing the condition has limited access to treatment

Spotted: Epilepsy is a disease of the brain that causes frequent seizures. It is extremely common, with around 50 million people suffering from the condition around the world. Although epilepsy can be treated with affordable drugs, diagnosing the disease has typically proven difficult in developing countries due to a lack of specialist equipment and neurologists with the required skills.

To tackle this problem, Danish startup BrainCapture has developed cheap and mobile electroencephalogram (EEG) equipment built using technology developed at the Technological University of Denmark (DTU Compute). The new device consists of a cap of electrodes which is placed on the patient’s head. Voltage differences between the electrodes are measured and sent via Buetooth to a smartphone which forwards the data to the cloud. A neurologist anywhere in the world can then access the information to come to a diagnosis.

The technology has progressed well to the point where BrainCapture could be spun-off from the University. However, some challenges remain – which the company and the University are working together to overcome. Chief among these is the fact that signals from eye movements, muscle contractions, and other sources of interference can disrupt the reading of neurological signals.

Nonetheless the prospects for BrainCapture look good, with the company recently receiving DKK 40 million (around €5 million) from the European Union’s innovation fund.

“We are close to completing the prototype of the quality control algorithm,” explains Associate Professor Tobias Andersen of the BrainCapture-DTU Compute team, outlining next steps for the project. “Next, we would like to test it while running live on BrainCapture’s device. Then, it will probably need to be adjusted and refined a bit. Finally, we would like to test it for its real purpose, which is to help inexperienced operators in EEG to record better quality data than they would normally be able to.”

Once it has received the necessary approvals, BrainCapture’s first target market is Kenya, a country known to have gaps in diagnosing and managing epilepsy.

Other recent medical diagnostic innovations spotted by Springwise include deep AI imaging that can scan thousands of x-rays, and a browser-based solution that tracks health through selfies.

Written By: Matthew Hempstead


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