Military radar could help stroke patients

University of Leicester researchers are pioneering use of military radar signal processing methods to help victims of stroke - the third most common cause of death in the UK.

The Leicester study has discovered that techniques used in radar systems can be modified and have the potential to improve early diagnosis and effective monitoring of stroke victims.

Research by Joanne Cowe in the University’s Medical Physics group led to the breakthrough which offers huge potential to deliver benefits to patients.

Joanne said: “Stroke is the third most common cause of death and the most common cause of adult disability in the UK and is estimated to cost the NHS over £2.3 billion per year. One quarter of strokes are due to emboli (blood clots or other foreign bodies) blocking small blood vessels in the brain. Emboli can originate from a number of sources such as the heart or from plaques in arteries in the head or neck due to vascular disease.

“Doppler ultrasound can be used for the detection of emboli in the cerebral circulation and can also be used to monitor the blood flow through vessels to assess if there are any problems such as blockages. Therefore, research into the detection of emboli and vascular disease, using ultrasound, has the potential to reduce stroke death and disability rates, and to generate large financial savings.”

Joanne graduated with a Masters in Electrical and Electronic Engineering before going on to work as a military systems engineer. She then went on to undertake a PhD as part of the University of Leicester’s Medical Physics group. In her PhD she investigated how radar techniques could improve the operation of medical ultrasound devices. In particular she looked at how these technologies could be used to detect and monitor the blood clots or other foreign bodies travelling through blood vessels in the brain which can lead to strokes.

Joanne will be presenting the findings of her Ph.D. research at a doctoral inaugural lecture on Wednesday 6th February. In this lecture she will explain how she investigated new methods of processing the ultrasound signal so as to obtain additional information. In particular she will be describing how techniques used in radar systems can be modified and utilised in a Doppler ultrasound system to improve the resolution, thereby providing more detailed information about the depths at which movement is occurring. This has the potential to aid in the early diagnosis and also in the monitoring of progression of vascular disease.

The second doctoral inaugural lecture will take place on Wednesday 6th February at 5.30pm in Ken Edwards Lecture Theatre 3. In addition to Joanne Cowe it will also feature Carolyn Tarrant (School of Psychology) talking about her research on “Trust Me I’m A Doctor”. Please email [email protected] for further information or if you wish to attend.

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