New, Flexible Headband for EEGs

If you’ve ever had a medical procedure that requires electrodes, you know you’re often left with “souvenirs,” either circles of gel or even the electrodes themselves embedded in sticky pads that technicians forgot to remove. Now, from Finland, comes a neat technical solution: electrode-containing film that can be easily placed and removed.

No messy stuff! Courtesy: University of Eastern Finland

No messy stuff! Courtesy: University of Eastern Finland

Called “Brain Status,” the electrode set, currently approved for use in Europe, is an example of “flexible electronics,” in which electronic circuitry is printed in metallic inks on flexible films. For Brain Status, silver ink was printed on polyester film to create a headband-like device that can be used to check brain signals quickly and easily, without losing the time of precisely placing sticky electrodes in a patient’s hair. Most importantly, placing the device does not require moving the patient’s head, which as the University of Eastern Finland’s press release reminds us, “is especially important in patients possibly suffering from a neck or skull injury.”

Because flexible electronics permit fast application and diagnosis, UEF graduate student Pasi Lepola invented the Brain Status device with the idea that it would be ideal for time-intensive emergency situations. As the press release states: “Although the benefits of EEG measurements are indisputable, they remain underused in acute and emergency care. A significant reason for this is the fact that the electrode sets available on the markets are difficult to attach on the patient, and their use requires special skills and constant training.”

By contrast, an ambulance crew member could use Brain Status to take an EEG reading on the way to a hospital, helping the ER staff to prepare before the patient even arrives. As all neurosurgeons know, “time lost is brain lost” thus, Brain Status may not only save lives, but enable fuller recoveries.

On a far less serious note, we’re just grateful that the age of flexible electronics means electrode-based diagnosis may become a lot less messy.