It's definitely an understatement to say that the sooner someone is treated for a stroke, the better their chances of survival and recovery. Before they can be treated, though, doctors need to know if they've indeed had a stroke. That's where the Cerebrotech Visor comes in.

Developed over the past few years by California-based Cerebrotech Medical Systems, the device utilizes a process known as volumetric impedance phase shift spectroscopy (VIPS).

Placed on a patient's head, it works by emitting low-energy radio waves that travel through the left and right hemispheres of the brain. As these waves pass through fluid in the brain, their frequency changes. The Visor assesses these changes in frequency, and compares them for the two halves of the brain. If they're markedly different, it indicates that a stroke has occurred – the greater the difference, the greater the stroke's severity.

In a study recently performed at the Medical University of South Carolina and elsewhere, emergency medical personnel used the device to assess patients suspected of having had a stroke. For each patient, three readings were taken and averaged. Neuroimaging was later used to provide definitive diagnoses.

When compared to those diagnoses, the Visor was found to be 92 percent accurate at identifying which patients had suffered a major stroke. Although that score may not be perfect, it's better than the accuracy rate achieved by emergency personnel utilizing "standard physical examination tools," which reportedly ranges from 40 to 89 percent.

A paper on the Cerebrotech-funded study was recently published in the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery.

The Visor has received FDA clearance, but is not yet commercially available.

Sources: Cerebrotech Medical Systems, Medical University of South Carolina via EurekAlert