New Technology Allowing Scientists Clearer Views of the Brain - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/18/06

New Technology Allowing Scientists Clearer Views of the Brain

Every photographer knows it's difficult to take a clear picture if your subject won't sit still. Imagine how critical that is if you're rolled into an MRI and told not to even breathe so doctors can get a good picture of what's wrong. That may be impossible for a patient like Charles Cederholm who has Parkinsons disease, a disorder often characterized by shaking.

"I have problems trying to move, I have problems eating, problems trying to get dressed. I have a lot of pain that goes along with it," says Charles.

But sophisticated technology today has paved the way for something called the propeller MRI which allows doctors to track the movement of the patient and still get a clear picture, even if the patient is moving.

"This technology you can move your head [a small] amount so that we can see that after scanning and correct for that," says Jim Pipe, a scientist with the Barrow Neurological Institute.

The new technology can help Alzheimer patients and even fidgety kids. It can also help doctors get very detailed scans of stroke patients in less time, so patients avoid more damage. Propeller MRI's are being used now at various diagnostic centers including here in Lubbock.

The same technology used to forecast a storm may also predict a stroke. It's called transcranial Doppler, and doctors are using it to look at blood flow in the brain. It's a slight variation of the same Doppler technology meteorologists use to watch a storm develop as it happens. But in this case, it measures blood flow in the brain...in real time. The technology can also be used to help treat migraines, and unlike other methods, it's non-invasive.

"It's based on the same Doppler principal where sound waves are sent toward an object and then received waves that are reflected off that object are received by the equipment." says David Newell, M.D.

Transcranial Doppler can be used on anyone at risk for stroke or migraine. Researchers are also studying the technology to help dissolve blood clots in the brain. And scientists at the Seattle Neuroscience Institute are already working on a transcranial Doppler the size of a PDA, so patients can actually wear it 24 hours a day to detect any warning sign of a stroke.

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