We are a team of engineers, scientists and doctors at University College London, working to develop new hospital equipment to help diagnose and monitor brain injury in newborn babies.
Brain injury in newborns can occur when the brain is deprived of oxygenated blood. The lack of oxygen disrupts the brain’s metabolism and can lead to abnormal brain function and some permanent damage.
Brain injury in newborns can lead to cerebral palsy and other cognitive, developmental and behavioural problems. In 10–15% of cases it can lead to death.
Currently, available monitors do not give doctors adequate information regarding the brain metabolism at the cotside.
Until now, doctors have been using the changing colour of blood to determine how much oxygen is in the brain. They do this by using two or 3 colours of near-infrared light.
We can now measure how well the brain is using oxygen, known as metabolism, as well as measuring oxygen levels. We achieve this by using the full spread of red and infrared wavelengths – the same kind of light that comes out of an old-fashioned light bulb – to illuminate the brain.
The machines detect light which has travelled through the brain using highly sensitive digital cameras. This information enables us to safely monitor the brain oxygen and metabolism levels.