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UCLA researchers use big data to help treat patients with traumatic brain injuries

Researchers at University of California, Los Angeles are conducting studies to see if big data can help prevent complications to patients with traumatic brain injuries.

The ongoing research utilizes an IBM-developed system and Excel Medical Electronics to predict increasing brain pressure before it occurs.  By monitoring thousands of data points per patient in real time, the computer system is able to generate and interpret information that may help guide doctors to the right path of treatment or preventive care. 

Real time inputs such as pulse, heart activity, and respiration are all recorded and interpreted by the system.  The field of neurology can often be convoluted as there are many diagnoses and interpretations of a given symptom.  However, with the aid of computer modeling and big data, it might be possible for doctors and caregivers to narrow down specific treatment plans in a much more decisive manner.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 1.7 million people in the U.S. sustain traumatic brain injury every year, and within that group about 52,000 die and 275,000 remain hospitalized.  Thanks to advances in medicine, 1.365 million are treated and then released, but the brain injuries, unlike broken bones, can be volatile at times. Therefore, the use of real time big data analytics can help to mitigate a brain injury’s unpredictability. 

“The field of big data analytics is evolving to include new kinds of data from sources such as medical monitors, giving us insights into patients that weren’t previously possible,” said Martin Kohn, MD and chief medical scientist for IBM.  “We believe that UCLA’s promising research may one day transform the way that doctors and nurses interact with patients inside the neuro-intensive care unit.”

“Through its research, UCLA is changing the way that analytics may eventually be used inside hospitals, and how we think about using data to improve patient outcomes,” John Hoffman, President of Excel Medical Electronics, added.

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