New optical diagnostic technology developed at Tufts University School of Engineering promises new ways to identify and monitor brain damage resulting from traumatic injury, stroke, or vascular dementia in real time and without invasive procedures.

Coherent hemodynamics spectroscopy (CHS) measures blood flow, blood volume, and oxygen consumption in the brain. It uses non-invasive near infrared (NIR) light technology to scan brain tissue, and then applies mathematical algorithms to interpret that information. Tufts has licensed CHS on a non-exclusive basis to ISS, a Champaign, IL-based company that specializes in technology to measure hemoglobin concentration and oxygenation in brain and muscle tissue.

CHS uses laser diodes that emit NIR light that is delivered to the scalp by fiber optics. Light waves are absorbed by the blood vessels in the brain. Remaining light is reflected back to sensors, resulting in optical signals that oscillate with time as a result of the heartbeat, respiration, or other sources of variations in the blood pressure. By analyzing the light signals with algorithms developed for this purpose, the model is able to evaluate blood flow and the way the brain regulates it, which is one marker for brain health.