In the event of a stroke, every minute until the patient is taken to hospital and given a confirmed diagnosis is vital, so that the appropriate treatment can be given. “Using a portable CT machine reduces the time it takes until a diagnosis can be made and treatment can start, as this can be done even before the patient arrives at the hospital,” Odd Øystein Ra, Project Manager at Semcon Norway, pointed out. In order for CT machines to be able to be used outside hospitals, for example in helicopters, they must be made lighter and more compact.
Research success so far
Thanks to a successful research project undertaken by Norwegian Air Ambulance Mobile Stroke Unit, where a portable CT machine was installed in a specially built ambulance, it is now possible to embark on the next step of research. Semcon’s role was originally to carry out a study that examined the possibilities of being able to use the technology and machine from the previous research project in a helicopter. Odd Øystein Ra explained that now, though, the company has developed and tested a concept for a stretcher on which the patients can lie and undergo examination in the CT machine.
In this project, Semcon is a technical partner of Norwegian Air Ambulance, and contributes, among other things, specialist expertise in control systems, electronics and mechanical systems. The long-term goal of the project is to contribute to the development of a prehospital CT machine that can be used in helicopters, smaller ambulances and as a mobile variant for smaller hospitals.
If the project is successful, the addition of a CT scanner to HEMS operations could be a game changer in terms of enhancements to prehospital care. More details about the kinds of devices that are currently being used by air medical operators can be found here.