Pakistani scientist, Faisal Kashif has devised a non-invasive technology for ICP monitoring in his PhD thesis at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US. – Photo by Faisal Kashif

KARACHI: A Pakistani scholar has devised a non-invasive way to sense brain pressure which could significantly change the current paradigm of neurological care of those suffering from brain injury or disease.

Monitoring intracranial pressure (ICP) is the most important thing to assess brain injury, hemorrhage (internal blood flow), tumors and other neurological problems. But current methods to measure this pressure are highly invasive - requiring a neurosurgeon to drill a hole in the skull to place a pressure sensor or catheter inside the brain - and are thus restricted to the very severe cases.

Pakistani scientist, Faisal Kashif has devised a non-invasive technology for ICP monitoring in his PhD thesis at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US. The method is based on processing available clinical signals using a mathematical model of relevant physiology. It provides real time estimates of ICP and cerebrovascular impedance, the latter is an indicator of brain’s ability to maintain its blood supply.

“ICP is a key neurological vital sign and is affected in several brain pathologies - even in concussions and migranes - and this non-invasive method could help in monitoring a vastly larger pool of patients,” said Kashif. He further added that unlike the invasive approaches which require a neurosurgical facility, the non-invasive method can also be applied in emergency-care settings where most trauma patients are first brought. Having access to ICP in a timely manner can guide doctors to provide life-saving interventions.

The initial validation studies show that the new method is equally precise as compared to other painful surgery based procedures. Now Kashif and his colleagues are setting up their prototype device for real time monitoring by the doctors, and to run relevant clinical trials. He is also hopeful that the device could be easily developed in Pakistan as well.

The Helen Carr Peake research prize

In April this year, Dr. Faisal Kashif won MIT’s Helen Carr Peake research prize for his doctoral thesis contributions to the field of bioengineering. He has also presented his findings at two major international conferences, American Heart Association’s Stroke 2010 in US, and ICP 2010 in Germany.

His research work was also declared as “Most Innovative Research” at the Innovation Congress 2009, Boston, US. In 2000, he was awarded two Gold Medals at Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Technology (GIKI) and won four years HEC’s overseas scholarships as he was accepted for the doctorate program at MIT, though he only partially used these funds as support became available from MIT’s research, teaching and a medical engineering fellowship, which he was awarded for his proposed research.

A Thesis dedicated to Pakistan

His doctoral thesis entitled “Modeling and estimation for non-invasive monitoring of intracranial pressure and cerebrovascular autoregulation” was a milestone in Kashif’s career. Four years ago, in his Masters thesis, he developed a method for efficient communication through a nonlinear channel, such as the one encountered in satellite and optical fiber links. He dedicated this thesis to his parents and to all the martyrs of independence, which shows his dedication to Pakistan.

“I am proud to be a Pakistani because I know the reasons for its creation. I am very happy to associate my honours to the ideology behind it. I want to do a lot more Insha-Allah, and contribute in all ways I can,” he told to Dawn.com.

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