State-of-the-art brain imaging technology in use at Boys Town Research Hospital

New brain-imaging technology being implemented at Boys Town is making a difference.
Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 6:14 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A state-of-the-art medical device unique to Omaha and the United States has made its way to Boys Town National Research Hospital. It’s one of only two such systems in the world.

The bright blue helmet is equipped with tiny sensors that study how the brain develops from birth onward.

Scientists say it’s a high-resolution neuroimaging instrument known as “optically-pumped magnetometry,” or OPM.

“This technology specializes because we can get the same resolution of images in tiny babies as we get in older children by attaching OPMs to their head,” said Dr. Tony Wilson with the Institute for Human Neuroscience.

Dr. Wilson says no other hospital in the U.S. has this device. OPM was made possible through an advancement in quantum physics.

“The actual sensors are tiny and they’re really just placed anywhere on the body,” Dr. Wilson said. “So if you wanted, you could literally put them on the stomach of an expectant mother and you could measure the brain activity of the fetus.”

OPM can help doctors track psychiatric disorders -- and better understand what causes epilepsy and seizures -- shortly after birth.

It’s non-invasive -- and children can move, play and even sing their way through it.

The team at Boys Town submitted a grant to the National Institutes of Health and was awarded $1.5 million to make this device accessible for children and families in Omaha.