Patients on dialysis are at a high of suffering from stroke, but they can’t tell. To be sure, a doctor must analyze murmurs and hums made by the movement of blood.
In a laboratory in Mbarara, a team is using a demo to listen to the vascular sound carefully. It is recorded by written software, to determine if it is normal.
The set of machines makes up the early stroke detection device.
The innovation is the brainchild of Mbarara University of Science and Technology biomedical engineering students, who were inspired by the loss that can be prevented with the timely arrest of the neurological condition.
After visiting the regional referral hospital, “we were also able to establish that interruptions to blood flow within the brain through the carotid artery is also an indicator of ischemic stroke occurrence”, Keith Richard Kwagala, the team leader explains.
“So building on that we were able to note that a device that can constantly monitor this even for a patient who doesn’t have the opportunity to always go for a checkup can have a personal bodyguard to tell them when it is right to prevent a stroke”, Kwagala.
Built with locally available materials, the device is programmed to detect stroke when it is at an early stage.
It is a much-needed intervention in a country where thousands of patients still have to travel abroad seeking specialized treatment because of the lack of medical equipment sometimes including basic screening machines.
The biomedical engineering department at the university is focusing on medical imaging, medical devices, and rehabilitation engineering.
“We use a user-centered design approach, where we take students into the community to identify health challenges. We bring back these students into our labs and they are able to go through a design program where they come up with innovations that can really solve our health challenges”, William Wasswa, Head of Department, Biomedical Sciences and Engineering, Mbarara University of Science and Technology explains.
The early stroke detection device is touted as a game-changer that could reduce the neurological burden.
According to the World Health Organization, stroke accounts for at least 9,000 deaths in Uganda every year, and 15 million people suffer from brain attacks globally.
The developers are the recipients of a $1,000 grant and finalists in the East Africa Digital Innovations for Business Resilience in the East African Community challenge, but whatever happens, they will need more than cash prizes to take this prototype off the shelf and onto the market.