Grad Students Transform Predictions of Brain Injury Recovery in ICU Patients

by | Sep 15, 2023

In a major breakthrough, two graduate students from Western University have made a significant development in the field of predicting brain injury recovery. Led by psychology professor Loretta Norton, the team aims to revolutionize the standard of care in intensive care units (ICUs) across Canada by removing the uncertainty surrounding brain injury outcomes.

Predicting the recovery of brain injuries has always been a challenge for healthcare professionals. However, Norton and her team have taken on this challenge by combining functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques, specifically Machine Learning. This approach allows them to gain insights into potential recovery by analyzing the communication patterns between different regions of the brain.

To test their method, the researchers closely monitored brain activity in 25 patients admitted to ICUs in London. Through their analysis, they achieved an accuracy rate of 80% in predicting brain injury recovery. This breakthrough surpasses the current standard of care, providing hope for patients and their families dealing with the uncertainty surrounding brain injury outcomes.

Matthew Kolisnyk and Karnig Kazazian, PhD candidates at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, played a critical role in the development of this method. Leveraging their expertise in neuroscience and AI, they created a powerful predictive tool for brain injury recovery.

The fusion of fMRI and Machine Learning enabled the researchers to gain insights into the intact communication between different brain regions, which is crucial in regaining consciousness. By examining the interaction and communication patterns of these regions, the team was able to make accurate predictions about a patient’s potential for recovery.

While the team acknowledges that their prediction model is not yet perfect and further research and testing are necessary, the results of this study are promising. These findings have already sparked interest and collaboration with other ICUs across Canada, paving the way for more extensive studies and improved patient care.

Norton’s involvement in measuring brain activity in the ICU dates back to her early research endeavors. Her pioneering work laid the foundation for this breakthrough, with her expertise playing a significant role in the study’s success. By combining her knowledge in psychology with the cutting-edge technologies employed by Kolisnyk and Kazazian, Norton’s team has ushered in a new era of predicting brain injury recovery.

The implications of this research extend well beyond the ICU. The ability to predict brain injury recovery accurately opens up avenues for personalized treatment plans, enhanced patient outcomes, and an improved quality of life for survivors. With further development and refinement, this method has the potential to revolutionize the medical field and offer hope for patients and their families.

As Norton’s team continues their research, collaboration with ICUs across Canada will be crucial in expanding their dataset and further validating their findings. The integration of AI and imaging techniques has the power to transform the assessment of brain injury recovery, bringing precision and accuracy to healthcare.

In conclusion, the combination of fMRI and Machine Learning techniques has the potential to predict brain injury recovery in ICU patients with an accuracy rate of 80%. This method, developed by two graduate students from Western University, offers hope to patients and their families while challenging the current standard of care. As researchers push the boundaries of medical science, the future of brain injury recovery prediction looks brighter than ever.