Universität Duisburg-Essen, Lehrstuhl für Mechanik und Robotik

UDE: Prototype developed for mobile EEG brain scan

12 October 2007
Acquiring signals, where others have to pass
Researchers from the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) have developed a prototype for mobile EEG brain impulse monitoring, which is now being exhibited at Medica. The small, light device can be carried on the back and facilitates wireless monitoring of brain impulses from a distance. The device constitutes a joint project between the team of Dr. Eng. Reinhard Viga, from the Electronic Components and Circuits Division, and neurologist Dr. med. Erich Koletzki at the St. Anna Hospital in Duisburg.
In the course of EEG scans, electrically controlled contacts (electrodes) are fitted onto the patient’s head, to measure electric voltages as a result of brain activity. The functional concept selected by the UDE scientists means all necessary components, such as the connectors for the electrodes or the acquisition and storage units of nerve activity signals, can be combined on and in the casing for appliance. The wireless data transmission then allows the doctor to observe the signal flow on the computer monitor.
The new concept therefore facilitates EEG measurements for patients in various body positions, even when they are swimming, since the device is waterproof and operates underwater. These attributes could be of interest for example in water-based therapies, such as dolphin therapy. The interactions between therapy and positive change in the patient are largely unknown here. As a result relevant research works using the new EEG system could, for the first time, demonstrate any possible changes in the electrical activity of the brain resulting from therapy.
During initial clinical applications the new EEG prototype was able to convince with its robust, appliance function conceived for wireless, mobile usage, in direct contrast to usual stationary EEG appliances, even in respect of signal quality.
In cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems (IMS) the UDE researchers are already planning to improve their new EEG system, which in future should manage without any central appliance completely. This means tiny intelligent single-electrode modules should be fastened onto the patient’s head and when activated link, themselves wirelessly to an EEG system. Such systems are of interest in places where rapid and error-free acquisition of electric activity in the brain is required with the greatest possible degree of mobility of and clearance around the patient, for example in emergency ambulances, in the operating room or in intensive care units.