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UW-Milwaukee: Froedtert Hospital, Medical College of Wisconsin partner with UWM App Brewery in app for brain surgery

Media Contacts:
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Michelle L. Johnson, O: 414-229-7490, C: 910-508-6758, media-services@uwm.edu
Medical College of Wisconsin
Holly Botsford, O: 414.955.8761, C: 414.688.7960, hbotsford@mcw.edu
Froedtert Hospital
Gerry Steele, O: 414-805-3057, C: 414-217-3013, Gerry.Steele@froedtert.com

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (October 3, 2017) — Designed and built in Milwaukee, NeuroMapper is changing how brain functioning is mapped in real time during “awake” brain surgery.

The app was developed by a Medical College of Wisconsin neuropsychologist and student programmers in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s App Brewery.

“Tumors can sometimes involve or be near important brain areas that control movement, vision, and cognition or our thinking abilities, so it is critical for the neurosurgeon to be able to identify and, if possible, avoid removing these areas to minimize risk to the patient,” said David Sabsevitz, PhD, a board certified neuropsychologist practicing at Froedtert Hospital and an associate professor of neurology at MCW.

Dr. Sabsevitz, who developed NeuroMapper in partnership with UW-Milwaukee’s App Brewery, specializes in this type of cognitive mapping during awake brain surgery. Froedtert Hospital has been using NeuroMapper since early this year. It is now being used at three other U.S. academic medical centers.

NeuroMapper is a tablet-driven testing system that contains multiple sensory and cognitive testing paradigms based on current standards of practice and studies of brain functioning and neurological samples. Until now, the number of cognitive functions that could be tested simultaneously and efficiently and the ability to collect real time analytics on how the patient is performing during surgery were limited.

Brain surgery is delicate but can help reduce neurological symptoms and improve survival. The goal of surgery is to remove as much of the tumor as possible without causing any worsening in the patient’s functioning. In some cases, patients are awakened during surgery to test the areas near the brain tumor to see if they are safe to remove. This procedure, referred to as intraoperative mapping, is done by stimulating the tissue around the brain tumor with an electrical current while testing different brain functions and avoiding those areas where the stimulation identifies important functions. Testing is also done throughout the surgery to monitor for any changes in functioning. Language mapping is the most common type of testing done during brain surgery and historically it involves talking to the patient, having them answer simple questions and naming pictures.

NeuroMapper enables more sophisticated, flexible and efficient testing of different functions in the operating room, the ability to tailor the type of testing to the patient’s functional level. It also provides real-time and potentially more sensitive analytics to the neurosurgeon about the patient’s performance to help in surgical decision making.

“NeuroMapper is allowing us to take cognitive mapping to a new level in the operating room,” said Dr. Sabsevitz.

NeuroMapper is the latest tool produced by the partnership between UW-Milwaukee’s App Brewery and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. The partnership offers UW-Milwaukee students in computer science, information studies and graphic design experience in developing new medical solutions using basic programming. MCW faculty get a glimpse into what is possible with mobile applications and how they are made.

“The impact of this innovative partnership is multi-faceted,” UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone said. “We provide hands-on experiences to our undergraduate students. Brain tumor patients receive a new level of personalized care. And, the region benefits from the collaborative, entrepreneurial work that generates products like NeuroMapper.”

About University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Recognized as one of the nation’s 115 top research universities, UW-Milwaukee provides a world-class education to 26,000 students from 89 countries on a budget of $667 million. Its 14 schools and colleges include Wisconsin’s only schools of architecture, freshwater sciences and public health, and it is a leading educator of nurses and teachers. UW-Milwaukee partners with leading companies to conduct joint research, offer student internships and serve as an economic engine for southeastern Wisconsin. The Princeton Review named UW-Milwaukee a 2018 “Best Midwestern” university based on overall academic excellence and student reviews, and the Sierra Club has recognized it as Wisconsin's leading sustainable university.

About the Medical College of Wisconsin Founded in 1893, The Medical College of Wisconsin is dedicated to leadership and excellence in education, patient care, research and community engagement. More than 1,200 students are enrolled in MCW's medical school and graduate school programs in Milwaukee, 56 medical students enrolled at MCW-Green Bay, and 26 students matriculated to MCW-Central Wisconsin in 2016. MCW's School of Pharmacy matriculated the inaugural class in 2017. A major national research center, MCW is the largest research institution in the Milwaukee metro area and second largest in Wisconsin. In FY2015, faculty received more than $158 million in external support for research, teaching, training and related purposes. This total includes highly competitive research and training awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Annually, MCW faculty direct or collaborate on more than 3,200 research studies, including clinical trials. Additionally, more than 1,500 physicians provide care in virtually every specialty of medicine for more than 525,000 patients annually.

About Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin The Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin regional health network is a partnership between Froedtert Health and the Medical College of Wisconsin supporting a shared mission of patient care, innovation, medical research and education. Our health network operates eastern Wisconsin's only academic medical center and adult Level I Trauma Center at Froedtert Hospital, Milwaukee, an internationally recognized training and research center engaged in thousands of clinical trials and studies. The Froedtert & MCW health network, which includes four community hospital campuses, more than 1,600 physicians and nearly 40 health centers and clinics, draws patients from throughout the Midwest and the nation. In our most recent fiscal year, outpatient visits exceeded 1.1 million, inpatient admissions to our hospitals were 49,250 and visits to our network physicians totaled 932,000.

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