The system is designed to monitor high intracranial pressure within the skulls...
The system is designed to monitor high intracranial pressure within the skulls of infants, a condition that affects more than 400,000 every year.
Source: Jeff Fitlow

Intracranial pressure sensor monitors infants

Students created a seemingly simple but sophisticated system to monitor high intracranial pressure within the skulls of infants.

Feeling the soft spot atop a newborn’s head can give a doctor a sense of whether there’s too much pressure inside, but Rice University bioengineering students have found a way to get more comprehensive data without an invasive procedure. The student team at Rice’s Brown School of Engineering created a seemingly simple but sophisticated system to monitor high intracranial pressure (ICP) within the skulls of infants, a condition that affects more than 400,000 every year. ICP can be caused by trauma to the brain and is a marker for hydrocephalus, a buildup of excess cerebral spinal fluid within the brain’s ventricles.

Their Bend-Aid, created in collaboration with Texas Children’s Hospital doctors at Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, combines an old-school adhesive bandage with a sensor that has the potential to replace two current techniques: Palpating the child’s soft spot to get a general sense of pressure, or drilling into the skull to insert an accurate but highly invasive sensor.

The non-invasive method created by seniors Sammi Lu, Kiara Reyes Gamas, Tensae Assefa, Patricia Thai and Brett Stern allows clinicians to monitor babies for as long as necessary to build a record of intracranial pressure over time that would be impossible to acquire through occasional palpitation. “What physicians usually do is feel the soft spot where the skull hasn’t fused together yet,” Thai said. “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. 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.”

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. “In actual cases, prolonged levels of ICP are more problematic than random spikes,” Lu said. “So we’ve built in an alarm system through LED lights and a buzzer.”

The bandages are already in common use to dress wounds, Reyes Gamas said. “We tested it,” she said. “We put it on our arms and it stayed on for nine days. It will not come off unless you use ethanol on it. And we didn’t avoid any activities like exercising or showering; it’s pretty stable. “We also tested the sensor itself to see if there was any change in accuracy over time in ideal conditions,” she said. “We found it was very consistent throughout.”

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related articles

Wearable motion detectors identify motor deficits

Wearable motion detectors identify motor deficits

Researchers found that wristwatch-like motion detectors can help identify in children signs of motor impairments that might otherwise be missed.

Skin sensor could improve life for hydrocephalus

Skin sensor could improve life for hydrocephalus

A new wireless, Band-Aid-like sensor could revolutionize the way patients manage hydrocephalus.

Wearables can help assess of myoclonic jerks

Wearables can help assess of myoclonic jerks

A study shows that wearable sensor technology can be used to reliably assess the occurrence of myoclonic jerks in patients with epilepsy also in the home environment.

Smart biomarkers to empower drug development

Smart biomarkers to empower drug development

Researchers aim to speed up developing drugs against brain diseases through cutting-edge technology. They are generating an innovative technology platform based on high-density microelectrode arrays and 3D networks of human neurons.

Brain-computer interface turns mental handwriting into text

Brain-computer interface turns mental handwriting into text

Scientists have used an implanted sensor to record the brain signals associated with handwriting, and used those signals to create text on a computer in real time.

Hybrid materials advance wearable devices

Hybrid materials advance wearable devices

We spoke to wearables and medical device expert Professor John Rogers about the benefits, challenges, trends and innovation within the sector.

Wearable sensors to track Parkinson's symptoms

Wearable sensors to track Parkinson's symptoms

Scientists have developed algorithms that, combined with wearable sensors, could help clinicians to monitor the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

Sticker detects cystic fibrosis in newborn's sweat

Sticker detects cystic fibrosis in newborn's sweat

Researchers have developed a novel skin-mounted sticker that absorbs sweat and then changes color to provide an accurate, easy-to-read diagnosis of cystic fibrosis within minutes.

Wearable monitors jaundice-causing bilirubin in newborns

Wearable monitors jaundice-causing bilirubin in newborns

Researchers have developed the first wearable devices to precisely monitor jaundice, a yellowing of the skin caused by elevated bilirubin levels in the blood that can cause severe medical conditions in newborns.

Popular articles

Subscribe to Newsletter