HUMBOLDT – With new technology, the Humboldt County Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services hopes to be a pioneer in streamlining the diagnosis and treatment of patients with seizures.
The Ceribell is a wearable, fast-response EEG device that wraps a series of sensors around the head with a headband that is then connected to a computer, which reads the information captured by the sensors to determine the severity of the seizure.
When a patient is having a non-convulsive seizure, it’s impossible for medical professionals and doctors to know if it’s happening or how severe it is without the use of an EEG machine that reads the patient’s brainwaves, said Victor Bycroft, chief nurse executive of HCMH. The problem is that EEG machines are large, bulky, expensive and time consuming, and many hospitals don’t have their own so it can take up to 12 hours to transport a patient with an EEG machine to a medical center.
A traditional EEG requires a specialized technician to attach a series of sensors, which can take up to an hour to place. With the Ceribell, the EEG measurement of a patient only takes a few minutes.
By being able to accurately assess the severity of a patient’s seizure, health professionals and physicians can provide faster and more accurate treatment rather than over- or under-treating the patient, Bycroft said.
The Ceribell can be used on patients 2 years and older. The company is working on developing a newborn headband that can be used for infants and toddlers.
“It’s really a game changer for us in this field,” said paramedic Jordan Erie, the head of the EMS unit. “It’s amazing to be able to determine that a patient is having a non-convulsive seizure.”
Humboldt County Memorial Hospital received two Ceribell devices – one is used in the ER while the other is available to EMS. Both have already been deployed in the few weeks since their arrival.
Humboldt EMS is one of only three EMS providers in the country to use the Ceribell and the only one in Iowa. About 400 hospitals nationwide have a Ceribell device, but none in this range, Erie said.
Humboldt EMS and the hospital are part of a pilot study of the University of New Mexico’s use of the Ceribell.
“We hope that with the data collected, we can make this the gold standard for EMS,” Erie said. “I would love to see this in every emergency medical service statewide.”
The Ceribell device is so new — it was developed in 2018 — that the Iowa State Bureau of Emergency Medical and Trauma Services has no guidance on its use.
“We’re working with the state to actually develop protocols for EMS,” Erie said.
Since the devices are already proven, Erie thinks the Ceribell is here to stay.
“I assume that in five years this will be the standard”, he said.
The Ceribell could be used for more than seizures in the future, Bycroft said. The company is working on developing software to enable the device to detect strokes, concussions and more.
“It’s a tool that we really need here in this rural area,” he said. “This will be a great benefit for our patients.”