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For all the recent advances in medical technology, neuropsychologists have largely relied on low-tech tools to asses a patient’s brain functions during awake brain surgery.
The neuropsychologist might talk with a patient or show him pictures of objects to identify to test brain functions like speech, vision, problem-solving skills and memory.
“The problem is you’re limited in what you can test in the operating room, based on what you bring in with you – it’s not very feasible to bring filing cabinets of stimuli and tests,” said David Sabsevitz, a neuropsychologist with Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, who has developed an app for the tests called The NeuroMapper.
February 2016: Sabsevitz holds a focus group at a national conference of neuropsychologists, generating interest in his idea. Upon returning, Sabsevitz calls Dustin Hahn, project manager with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee App Brewery, to discuss the possibility of a brain mapping app.
Spring and summer 2016: Sabsevitz receives funding from the Medical College of Wisconsin to pursue the project. Hahn and developers Chris
Sampon and Chase Letteney begin building the app, which tests functions in real-time using two iPads.
October 2016: The initial version of the app is used in an operating room for the first time. Over the next few months, Sampon and Letteney continue to refine it based on feedback from Sabsevitz following surgeries.
February 2017: Sabsevitz hosts a presentation at the International Neuropsychological Society to demonstrate the NeuroMapper technology. “The level of interest blew me away,” Sabsevitz said. “We had a number of people already requesting to be early beta testers for NeuroMapper and about 30 different sites expressing interest in getting the final product in their ORs.”
The University of California San Diego is the first hospital outside of Froedtert Hospital to use the NeuroMapper in the operating room. Cleveland Clinic and MD Anderson Cancer Center also sign on as beta testers. The app is being rolled out across the country in October.