Wearable high-density diffuse optical tomography technologies
Newborn infants who suffer a brain injury often go on to develop cerebral palsy (CP). Early diagnosis of CP is critical because during the first weeks of life, the brain is likely to be at its most susceptible to treatment. In healthy children, the parts of the brain that control movement and receive somatosensory input are organized like a map of the body. This organization is disrupted in CP. If we can monitor the emergence of this disruption in the infant brain, it should be possible to identify those infants that are developing abnormally much earlier than is currently possible. UCL are world leaders in Diffuse Optical Tomography (DOT): a technique that uses near-infrared light to produce 3D images of brain function. It has recently been demonstrated that high-density diffuse optical tomography (HD-DOT) can produce functional images that are comparable in quality to those of fMRI. However, DOT technologies are limited by the fact that most systems employ many bulky optical fibres. Our team have begun to develop miniaturized, fibreless, wearable HD- DOT systems. In the last 6 months, our prototype became the first such system to produce functional images of the human brain. This technology has the potential to have a significant impact on the understanding and monitoring of newborn brain injury and CP. Furthermore, because it will enable high-quality functional images of the brain to be obtained in almost any environment, it has profound implications for real-time and continuous monitoring of brain injury and numerous other clinical applications.
Aims and Objectives:
The PhD student undertaking this project will play a critical role in developing a new generation of wearable functional neuroimaging systems, and will spearhead their application and translation to the neonatal intensive care unit.