Brain Neuromonitoring: Recording the Electrical Activity In Your Brain

Imagine if your loved one was having uncontrolled seizures, but you didn’t know it. There were no symptoms or warning signs, yet potential brain damage was occurring with each of these “silent” seizures. For most of us, this would be devastating. But what if your loved one could be at a place where someone was watching their brainwaves all the time, making sure they received immediate treatment when these silent seizures occurred?

IU Health Neuroscience is the only program in the country that can do just this: 24/7 monitoring, no matter where your loved one is receiving care throughout the hospital. While a few hospitals can provide continuous recorded brain monitoring, and some view it in real-time during parts of the day, only IU Health Neuroscience can provide 24-hour, real-time monitoring by onsite experts who are specially trained and credentialed to spot seizures and other brain-related problems.

What is brain neuromonitoring?
Brain neuromonitoring is the recording of the electrical activity made by brain cells (neurons) as they talk to each other. This recording is made by gluing sensing wires to the head, which are similar to the wires that record the electrical activity of the heartbeat during an EKG. The wires are attached to a machine that looks like the “Johnny 5” robot, complete with a video camera through which specialists can watch patients and match up their brainwaves with everything else that’s going on with them.

Why is brain neuromonitoring so important?
Brain neuromonitoring can act as the voice of the patient when he or she is too ill to speak, letting the doctor know, for example, when the patient is suffering from seizures that don’t cause visible symptoms, yet can have devastating neurological effects.

Brain neuromonitoring can also allow for faster, more accurate diagnosis of other conditions, and provide real-time observation of a medication’s effectiveness. If a patient does not respond to treatment, doctors can immediately adjust the medications or respond in other ways. Neuromonitoring can also help avoid unnecessary use or overuse of medications.

What types of patients benefit from brain neuromonitoring?
People with many different neurological conditions can benefit from brain neuromonitoring, including those who have:

  • Altered mental status
  • Anoxic brain injury
  • Brain aneurysm/bleed
  • Coma after cardiac arrest
  • Encephalitis
  • Epilepsy
  • Meningitis
  • Metabolic coma
  • Sepsis
  • Stroke
  • Syncope
  • Traumatic brain injury

How long has IU Health Neuroscience been providing this service?
IU Health Neuroscience began providing this service at IU Health Methodist Hospital in 2008. And in March 2011, the service was expanded to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. The service has also been provided remotely from IU Health Methodist Hospital to IU Health Saxony Hospital since its opening in December 2011, and IU Health North Hospital since February 2012.

Why don’t other hospitals provide this service?
This service is at the cutting-edge of technology, neuroscience and critical care. It takes a significant amount of resources to maintain the continuous flow of brainwave and video data streaming from patients all over the hospital to a control room that feels much like NASA’s Mission Control Center. And the neurodiagnostic specialists manning the control room are hard to come by, with a recognized nationwide shortage of these trained experts. These factors, coupled with the collaboration that’s required with neurologists, results in a complex process that few hospitals are prepared to manage.

For more information
To find out more about brain neuromonitoring visit IU Health Neuroscience. For details on how to become neurodiagnostic technologist, please visit the neuromonitoring health sciences education page.

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