Technological innovation in Neurosurgery

Recent research implicates neurosurgical practice as an exemplary field of technological innovation and expansion. The article, published in the Journal of Neurosurgery, examined patents and peer-reviewed publications as an index of technology development and clinical translation, respectively.

Marcus and colleagues analyzed 11,672 neurosurgical patents and 208,203 publications across 50 years in order to identify the top-performing technologies within the field of neurosurgery.  This analysis revealed that the sharpest rise in technological expansion was localized in image-guidance (e.g. MRI scanning), and neuromodulation technology (e.g. deep brain stimulation). However, neurophysiology devices, operating microscopes, and endoscopes have all undergone vast developments in recent years.

This surge in clinical translation of technological innovation is observed throughout neuro-related fields and clinical practice more generally. These challenges reflect an ever-growing demand for improving and optimizing intervention and service use across all aspects of the patient pathway.

Apple Updates Developer Guidelines for Medical Research Apps

Apple has updated its iOS development guidelines to spell out what consent mobile apps dealing with human medical research must obtain.

A new clause states that this type of app must get permission from participants, and if they are minors, from a parent or guardian. Developers must also inform users about the research’s nature, purpose and duration, as well as about procedures, risks and benefits to the participant. Other data that must be provided: information about confidentiality and handling of data, including sharing with third parties, a point of contact for participant questions and a description of how to withdrawal from the study.

Developers must follow these guidelines in order for Apple to approve the software for sale in its App Store.

The addition comes after Apple on Monday announced a software framework that allows developers to create apps for medical research. Called ResearchKit, downloading an app developed with the framework essentially turns an iPhone into a diagnostic device capable of conducting tests and capturing health data. The first five apps developed with ResearchKit debuted Monday and deal with breast cancer, asthma, Parkinson’s disease, heart health and diabetes. The framework will be released as open source in April, potentially allowing apps to be created for rival OSes like Android.

Data collected by the initial apps will not be used for commercial purposes, according to the medical institutions that created them. The data will only be shared with other medical researchers for scientific studies and people must consent to this use.

Apple Pay app development guidelines were also updated. Apps that use Apple’s mobile wallet to offer recurring payments must at minimum, disclose the length of the renewal term and the fact that it will continue until canceled, as well as “what will be provided during each period, the charges that will be billed to the customer, and how to cancel.”

Finally, apps that allow music and videos to be downloaded without the content owner’s permission from YouTube, SoundCloud, Vimeo and other third-party sources will be rejected.

Brain Injury HTC announces the Paediatric Theme!

The Brain Injury Healthcare Technology Co-operative is delighted to inform that a dedicated Paediatric theme has been awarded by the National Institute for Health Research.

The theme will be lead by Dr Richard Iles (Consultant in Respiratory & General Paediatrics, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) and Prof. Helen Cross (The Prince of Wales’s Chair of Childhood Epilepsy & Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Neurology, UCL-Institute of Child Health & Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust). Richard will join the HTC management committee to represent a number of project leads, we will confirm these in the next few weeks.

The ‘Non-Invasive, non-contact measurement of weight, heart rate, respiratory rate and movement, using ballistocardiography (BCG)’ is underway with matched funds from the Cambridge University EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account. This project is led by Dr Joan Lasenby and will be showcased at the next management committee (20th January).

Innovation Small Funding Competition Winners

The Brain Injury HTC is pleased to announce below the winners of the Innovation Small Funding Competition. Further news will follow shortly.

BI HTC Centres1. Development of a tele-rehabilitation device to enhance walking recovery early after acquired brain injury

Dr Celia Clarke, University of East Anglia

This study aims to develop a smart “wobble board” allowing people with ankle control problems following a brain injury to independently carry out an exercise programme in their own homes.

2. Using social media to elucidate the unmet needs and support networks of people with acquired brain injury

Aaron Lawson McLean, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust & University of Cambridge

This study seeks to analyse online discussion of ABI and discover the needs and interactions of patients to better understand their experiences.

3. Development of a novel technology-based biomarker for identification of mild traumatic brain injury
Dr Magdalena Letswaart, University of Stirling

This study hopes to create a new way of measuring neural change following injury, identify the routine behaviours which are most damaging and see what can be done to reduce the impact of the damage.


4. A pilot study of a tablet-based app for rehabilitation of the upper limb following stroke

Dr Sheree McCormick, Manchester Metropolitan University

This project aims to improve the recovery of the upper limb and offers long term rehabilitation in the home setting using a tablet-based app.

5. A Study of Novel Proteomic Biomarkers of Brain Injury in Term Newborns with Hypoxia-Ischemia

Dr Divyen K Shah, Royal London Hospital/Barts and the London School of Medicine, QMUL

This study is to create a blood-test for use at the bedside which can better select infants for the right treatment and determine the long term outcomes for individual babies who have suffered from lack of blood or oxygen.

6. Managing Contracture and Spasticity with Standing Frame Vibration: Feasibility Study Using the ORLAU Standing Frame

Dr Andrew Roberts, Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

This project aims to design and develop a device which integrates a vibratory stimulus into an existing standing frame to reduce spasticity in patients with cerebral palsy, stroke and spinal cord injury.

7. Multidisciplinary computer-based motor and language therapy for acquired brain injury

Dr Holly Robson, University of Reading

The proposed project will develop and test a therapy software that combines treatment of language and motor impairments. The aim is that the software that can be used by more than one health profession to deliver therapy in a time efficient, personalised and motivating way.

8. Pre-Hospital Brain Imaging

Dr Mark Wilson, Imperial Hospitals NHS Trust and London Air Ambulance

This study aims to take diagnosis closer to the point of injury by assessing the accuracy of using a near infrared assessment tool to establish if a patient has a blood clot on the outside of the brain.