LEDs and Medicine: Diffuse Optical Tomography Uses LEDs to Scan Brain

A look at current DOT testing

A look at current DOT testing

According to a report in BioOptics World, scientists at the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri have developed a new way to study the brain, diffuse optical tomography (DOT), a new non-invasive technique that relies on LEDs rather than magnets or radiation. While still experimental, it offers promise for a new non-invasive test for the human brain.

While it looks primitive now, DOT scans use LED light to measure brain activity. For a DOT scan, a subject wears a cap composed of many light sources and sensors connected to cables. A DOT cap covers two-thirds of the head and involves shining LED lights directly into the head. DOT images show brain processes taking place in multiple regions and brain networks, like those involved in language processing and self-reflection (daydreaming). It also avoids radiation exposure and bulky magnets required by positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) respectively.

DOT works best for patients with electronic implants that can be problematic with MRI testing such as pacemakers, cochlear implants, and deep brain stimulators (used to treat Parkinson’s disease). The magnetic fields in MRI may disrupt either the function or safety of implanted electrical devices while DOT doesn’t impact these types of devices.

How does DOT work? According to author Joseph Culver, Ph.D., associate professor of radiology, DOT can detect the movement of highly oxygenated blood flows to the parts of the brain that are working harder when the neuronal activity of a region in the brain increases. He told BioOptics World that, “It’s roughly akin to spotting the rush of blood to someone’s cheeks when they blush.”  According to the magazine, DOT works by detecting light transmitted through the head and capturing the dynamic changes in the colors of the brain tissue.

DOT has a lot of potential benefits for medicine concerning the brain.  Since DOT technology does not use radiation, doctors could monitor progress of patients using multiple scans performed over time without worry. It could be useful for patients recovering from brain injuries, patients with developmental disorders such as autism, and patients with neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s.

Currently, a full-scale DOT unit takes up an area slightly larger than a phone booth, but Culver and his team have built versions of the scanner mounted on wheeled carts. The DOT device is designed to be portable, so it could be used at a patient’s bedside in the hospital or at home, in a doctor’s office, or even in the operating room in the future.

For more details about DOT, visit:

BioOptics World, DIFFUSE OPTICAL TOMOGRAPHY ABLE TO SCAN THE BRAIN WITHOUT RADIATION, MAGNETS, http://www.bioopticsworld.com/articles/2014/05/diffuse-optical-tomography-able-to-scan-the-brain-without-radiation-magnets.html

Nature, Mapping distributed brain function and networks with diffuse optical tomography, http://www.nature.com/nphoton/journal/v8/n6/full/nphoton.2014.107.html (registration required)

 

 

LEDs, Sleep and SAD –Innovations in Light

Philips Wake Up Light

Philips Wake Up Light

In the past, most people just bought light bulbs without a thought. It was simply about light. There weren’t many extra considerations. Today’s lighting purchase might be made with intelligent applications and even therapeutic reasons in mind, such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Light can help prevent or lessen the symptoms of SAD. According to WebMD, as many as 3% of Americans can suffer from SAD in the winter. When people are exposed to less natural light they may develop depression and anxiety, oversleep, and even have difficulty concentrating. Some people who live in extreme areas that depend on artificial light during long winter months without sunlight can use artificial light derived from LED light bulbs for some SAD relief.

Until now, most SAD sufferers needed special light boxes for SAD-related light therapy. LEDs are a natural light therapy source. Light from almost all LEDs used for lighting, displays and even TVs tend to naturally skew towards the blue part of the spectrum. Blue light stimulates a photoreceptor in the eye that reduces the production of the hormone melatonin and helps people stay awake.

LED lighting companies have begun to leverage blue light for those with seasonal disorders and even sleep issues.

Philips tackled the issue of the lack of light during polar winter in a town in the Arctic, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, where they experience dark for four months straight. Longyearbyen is the northernmost town in the world with 2,000 inhabitants (outnumbered by 3,000 polar bears). For two months, 186 volunteers used the Philips Wake-up Light for a study.  Already proven to work in a number of independent clinical studies, the Philips Wake-up Light was used to help wake up the volunteers with gradually increasing LED light prior to the alarm.

After using the Philips Wake-up Light for six weeks during the polar winter, 87% of residents said that they wake up feeling more refreshed, alert and ready for the day. Philips reported that 98% of residents said they would continue to use the Philips Wake-up Light rather than their previous method of waking up.  You can see a video about the experiment here.

Philips also has designed Philips goLITE BLU to help stave off the winter blues. The goLITEBLU provides the right level of blue light to help regulate a body’s clock and improve mood and energy levels. It is more efficient than traditional white light boxes, producing more concentrated light in a considerably smaller form factor.

For those challenged to wake up without hitting the snooze button repeatedly, there’s the Philips HF3500/60 Wake-Up Light that leverages both music and light to wake you up.  Here’s a link to an entertaining review written by a snooze button addict from Gizmodo.

Lighting Science’s Awake and Alert LED lamp brings more blue light to help people stay awake, while the company’s Good Night light reduces the blue light to help people sleep. The company also has designed the Rhythm Downlight with an app that can keep a sleep schedule for shift workers, those in extra long nights in cold climates and even those in space. The app syncs up with a specially designed digital LED light bulb. When it’s time to begin waking, the bulb will emit more blue light to help you wake up. But when it’s time go to sleep, the percentage of blue light is reduced, turning on your melatonin so you can sleep.

For Further Reading

Discover Magazine, Smart Bulb Helps You Sleep and Wake on Schedule, http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2014/04/04/smart-bulb-helps-you-sleep-and-wake-on-schedule/#.U0K5m_l90xF

The New York Times, LEDs Change Thinking about the Light Bulb, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/06/technology/personaltech/leds-change-thinking-about-the-light-bulb.html?_r=0

Philips, Philips Wake Up the Town, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wotUrbYs0QI

Philips, Wake up the Town: Arctic Experiment Results, http://www.digitalnewsroom.philips.com/pressreleases/Wakeup_light_campaign/Philips_Wake_up_the_town_Final_results_report.pdf

Gizmodo, A Light-Up Alarm Completely Changed My Life, http://gizmodo.com/a-light-up-alarm-completely-changed-my-life-1535668863

The Business Standard, Lights are no longer just for lighting, http://www.business-standard.com/article/beyond-business/lights-are-no-longer-just-for-lighting-114031401155_1.html

Wearable LEDs – LEDs Go Upscale in Fashion

We’re all familiar with the use of LEDs in children’s sneakers when each step a child takes lights up an LED in a sneaker. Now, LEDs are going upscale in clothing with designers taking advantage of LEDs for aesthetics and even going high tech to highlight your mood.

A recent Akris fashion show featured an evening gown studded with LEDs.

A recent Akris fashion show featured an evening gown studded with LEDs.

Swiss design house Akris’s Albert Kriemler used LEDs in his new ready-to-wear collection that premiered in Paris in March. Akris took cues from science and technology in designing his latest collection.  His latest show debuted two long evening dresses and a suit glimmering with constellations of tiny LED lights.

The lume collection features mood-indicating LEDs.

The lume collection features mood-indicating LEDs.

Designer Elizabeth Bigger’s Lüme Collection brings LEDs to the simple black dress and black shirts.  The collection uses embedded LEDs that can be illuminated in patterns controlled from a smartphone to bring a little fun into the clothing.  According to an article in Gizmag, Bigger’s objective was to “create a series of garments that could adapt to the users daily life, changing in color depending on the event, location, mood, or even just to match another garment or accessory.” Using a link via Bluetooth to a smartphone, the LEDs in the clothes can even mirror your mood as posted on social media, the weather forecast, or any other data to which your smartphone has access. Recently, the Lüme Collection won the Jury Prize in the Aesthetic Category at the 17th International Symposium on Wearable Computers.

Sensoree's Mood Sweater helps those with sensory disorders understand and project their moods via LEDs.

Sensoree’s Mood Sweater helps those with sensory disorders understand and project their moods via LEDs.

While most clothing designers focus on aesthetic appeal, the designer of Sensoree’s Mood Sweater focused on the practical with a medical spin. Kristin Neidlinger created the sweater during her MFA design research at the California College of the Arts for people with conditions like autism or sensory processing disorders. The mood indicating sweater can help the sweater wearer actually see how they are feeling and project those feelings to others around them.

According to an interview with The Verge, Neidlinger says she thought of it as strictly a therapeutic device, while the fashion industry started to notice it for both its technical and stylistic creativity. The sweater uses sensors to detect a certain kind of sweat in the palms of the wearer’s hands that varies depending on the wearer’s emotional state, and then translates it into multicolored light emitted by LEDs.

For Further Reading

LEDinside, LEDs Hit the Runway in AKRIS RTW Fall 2014 Collection, http://www.ledinside.com/news/2014/3/leds_hit_the_runway_in_akris_rtw_fall_2014_collection

Gizmag.com, Lüme fashions feature flexible, programmable LEDs, http://www.gizmag.com/lume-fashion-led-smartphone-programmable-wearable-electronics/29300/

The Verge, http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/26/5449322/make-it-work-what-should-fashion-look-like-in-the-age-of-connected-devices

LEDs Making a Difference in Medicine

Special LED-based luminous ceiling lighting by Philips

Special LED-based luminous ceiling lighting by Philips

There have been quite a few stories lately about how LEDs are making a difference in medical settings. Here are a few cases where LEDs are making a difference with infection control, intensive care unit lighting and in medical research for brain disorders.

Controlling the spread of infection through mobile devices in hospitals

The statistics about hospital acquired infections (HAIs) are staggering.  According to the US Centers for Disease Control, HAIs inpact more than a million people a year in the US alone and are linked to nearly 100,000 US deaths per year.  More than 50 percent of healthcare workers admit to using mobile devices during direct physical contact with patents and yet only 8 percent say that actually clean them.  According to Hospital and Health Networks, 65 percent of doctors believe that the increased use in mobile devices in the healthcare environment leads to the spread of disease.

Sensor Electronic Technology, Inc. (SETi) plans to unveil a new line of disinfection cases for phones, tablet computers and other mobile devices at Medica tradefair in Dusseldorf, Germany, November 20 23, 2013. Using SETi’s UV LEDs, the disinfection cases are the world’s first fully portable disinfection units and are designed to be carried with the mobile device as a protective case as well as a disinfection system.

Using LED lighting to help critically ill patients

Special LED-based luminous ceiling lighting by Philips has been introduced into clinical use by the Charité Campus Virchow Clinic in Berlin as part of a unique stress-reducing concept called Parametric Spatial Design. Simulating energizing daylight to comfort critically ill patients, Parametric Spatial Design uses the area above a patient bed to create sky-like visuals mimicking daylight customized to the needs of individual patients.

Clinical research has shown that factors like loud noise, inappropriate lighting conditions and social isolation can increase the risk of patients in intensive care slipping into a shock-like state.

Philips played a significant role in designing this innovative concept.  The luminous ceiling from Philips combines a natural, dynamic rhythm of daylight and the effects of gentle colorful light and visual content to create a soothing environment for patents. It incorporates 15,400 LEDs and extends from the ceiling onto the wall in front of a patient’s bed, filling a patient’s field of vision.

Shining Light on Brain Disorders

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (WUSTL) are using tiny, electronic devices that include an LED to identify and map neural circuits in the brain especially those that target specific populations of brain cells that malfunction in depression, pain, addiction and other disorders.

The team’s work has been recognized with a rare grant called EUREKA (Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration) that funds high-risk/high-reward projects from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which awards only 12 to 18 such grants each year.

The WUSTL team will develop specialized, optically sensitive G-protein-coupled receptors on brain cells that will make it possible to control cell signaling in the brain with light.  Combining these new receptor tools with the wireless micro-LED devices implanted in a mouse brain should enable researchers to learn about molecular and cellular events that underlie stress, addiction and depression.  The researchers hope to isolate and map the brain networks involved in stress by studying how the mice interact in their cages.

The team developed the special wireless micro-LED devices with researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.  Many researchers use optogenetic techniques to isolate pathways in the mouse brain, but those animals are often tethered to wires.  The team at WUSTL can observe animals that are able to move freely because the LED devices that they developed are portable and wireless.

For Further Reading

LED Journal, Using UV LEDs to Control the Spread of Hospital Acquired Infections, http://www.ledjournal.com/main/markets/applications/using-uv-leds-to-control-the-spread-of-hospital-acquired-infections/

Philips News Release, Luminous ceiling from Philips simulates daylight to comfort critically ill patients in Intensive Care, http://www.newscenter.philips.com/main/standard/news/press/2013/20131024-Luminous-ceiling-from-Philips-simulates-daylight-to-comfort-critically-ill-patients-in-Intensive-Care.wpd#.UoPhB_mtmSo

Bioscience Technology, Tiny Devices Can Shine Light on Brain Disorders,  http://www.biosciencetechnology.com/news/2013/11/tiny-devices-can-shine-light-brain-disorders#.UoY5bhqtmSq