Purdue University researchers have developed tiny devices that are implanted in the brain to predict and prevent epileptic seizures, and a nanotech sensor implanted in the eye to treat glaucoma. The first project is a transmitter three times the width of a human hair that is implanted below the scalp to detect signs of an epileptic seizure before it occurs. The system records neural signals relayed by electrodes in the brain.
Said Pedro Irazoqui assistant professor of biomedical engineering, "When epileptics have a seizure, a particular part of the brain starts firing in a way that is abnormal. Being able to record signals from several parts of the brain at the same time enables you to predict when a seizure is about to start, and then you can take steps to prevent it." Data from the transmitter is picked up by an external receiver, also being developed by the Purdue researchers.
The second project is a sensor implanted in the eye to monitor glaucoma by measuring pressure in the eye's interior. The disease causes blindness from a buildup of fluid pressure in the interior chamber of the eye, killing fibers in the optic nerve. Glaucoma patients have their eye pressure checked regularly, but it can change at any minute.
"What you really need to do," said Irazoqui, "is check it often, every couple of minutes, but you can't go to the doctor every couple of minutes for the rest or your life. So what you need is a device that measures your eye pressure continuously."
The pressure sensor, which is placed between two layers of tissue in the eye, measures the interocular pressure and transmits the information to an external receiver so pressure can be continuously monitored.