Dec. 26 - Israeli doctors have developed a portable device which they say can detect strokes, the third biggest killer in the western world. The prototype, worn on patients' heads, monitors brain waves and identifies any discrepancies in their pattern. Jim Drury reports.
STORY: Professor Natan Bornstein believes this portable head device could help doctors prevent strokes, the third biggest killer in the western world. Bornstein is vice president of the World Stroke Organisation. He says the prototype, made by Israeli start-up Neurokeeper, could save lives. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR NATAN BORNSTEIN, HEAD OF STROKE UNIT, DEPARTMENT OF NEUROLOGY AT SACKLER SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY AND VICE PRESIDENT OF THE WORLD STROKE ORGANIZATION, SAYING: "This is a very innovative device and technology and also approach to prevent stroke and to identify the sign and symptoms and signals of disturbances in blood flow to the brain, which in this case we can act (on) immediately." The 200 dollar device monitors the brain waves of those at risk of stroke, using an algorithm to identify discrepancies in their pattern. At high risk are previous stroke sufferers and those diagnosed with severe carotid stenosis, a narrowing of the large artery which supplies blood to the brain. Neurokeeper CEO Shay Bar-Haim says at-risk patients could even monitor themselves at home. SOUNDBITE (English) CEO OF 'NEUROKEEPER', SHAY BAR-HAIM, SAYING: "Our device detects automatically a stroke event and alerts either in the home environment the patient himself or his family, or in the hospital environment the medical staff, of a potential ischemic attack and allows the patients to get to the hospital early and get treated early." Treating a stroke quickly is key to sufferers' recovery. Survivors can undergo years of therapy to regain brain function lost after an attack. It's a sensitive subject in Israel. Almost seven years ago then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke that has left him in a persistent vegetative state. It followed a smaller stroke 19 days earlier and some Israelis question whether doctors could have detected and treated Sharon more effectively. Bornstein, who is advising Neurokeeper, thinks their device will help many at risk patients. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR NATAN BORNSTEIN, HEAD OF STROKE UNIT, DEPARTMENT OF NEUROLOGY AT SACKLER SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY AND VICE PRESIDENT OF THE WORLD STROKE ORGANIZATION, SAYING: "In very high risk sub-group of patients it will be a breakthrough device that may help us, the physician, as well as the patient, of course, to identify all this unnecessary events." Neurokeeper are planning a large-scale clinical trial. If successful, they hope it will be licensed within two years.