The mortality rate for pediatric cardiac arrest is nearly 50 percent. Among the survivors, the minority escape significant neurologic injury because of the oxygen loss to the brain.
“It’s so much more than just surviving,” said Daniel Licht, MD, pediatric neurologist and director of the Neurovascular Imaging Lab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It’s the quality of survival that’s important.”
A newly named Frontier Program called Biomedical Optical Devices to Monitor Cerebral Health, co-led by Dr. Licht, Todd Kilbaugh, MD, and Wesley Baker, PhD, has the goal of developing an optical device that could revolutionize cardiac resuscitation by providing real-time feedback to the person performing CPR. In theory, the instrument, via a small rubber pad that sticks to the patient’s forehead, will be able to sense oxygen demand and oxygen delivery to the brain using near infrared light, and then relay that information back to the care provider.
“The next frontier, in many ways, is no longer survival, but giving children a life worth living,” Dr. Kilbaugh said. “Our devices will give us a window into each child’s brain during their critical illness, allowing us to tailor the therapy. Ultimately, our goal is to limit neurologic injury and return them home — to their families and lives — the same children before they were entrusted into our care.”