NeuroMapper improving mid-surgery brain function testing

A new mobile application coming out of UW-Milwaukee’s App Brewery is improving brain function testing during neurosurgery.

NeuroMapper was developed by David Sabsevitz, a board certified neuropsychologist practicing at Froedtert Hospital and an associate professor of neurology at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

During brain surgery, patients are sometimes brought to a state of consciousness in order to test areas of the brain near a brain tumor to see if they can be removed without impairing function. This intraoperative testing procedure is often administered by conversing with the patient, asking simple questions and having them identify pictures.

The new app allows for more efficient testing of cognitive functions through a tablet-based system, and lets health care professionals tailor the testing to the patient’s performance level, according to a release from UWM. It also delivers real-time analytics on patient brain function to surgeons.

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

Froedtert Hospital has been using NeuroMapper since early this year. It’s also being used at three other academic medical centers in the United States.

NeuroMapper came from an ongoing partnership between UWM’s App Brewery and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. Through this partnership, students in computer science, information studies and graphic design can use basic programming to try and solve problems in the medical space.

“The impact of this innovative partnership is multifaceted,” said UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone. “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.”

UWM’s App Brewery, part of the university’s Mobile Innovation Lab, has a portfolio which includes the UWM Mobile app, the UWGB Mobile app, a Streets of Old Milwaukee Tour app for the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Waukesha County Recycles app, the S.T.A.C. app for athletes to track concussion symptoms and more.

–By Alex Moe