Smart brain-wave cap can identify a stroke before the patient reaches hospital

Amsterdam University Medical Centers (UMC) has developed a brain-wave cap which can identify the severity of a stroke and send the patient to the correct hospital directly from the ambulance.

Amsterdam University Medical Centers

With the research published in Neurology on October 17, 2023, Amsterdam UMC has unveiled the results of their ‘brain-wave’ cap. The cap allows an EEG to be carried out in the ambulance if the patient is suspected of having a stroke.

Between 2018 and 2022, the smart brain-wave cap was tested in 12 Dutch ambulances, with data collected from almost 400 adult patients suspected of suffering a stroke, as judged by the ambulance paramedic, with an onset of symptoms less than 24 hours before the EEG recording.

Researchers found an accurate diagnosis of the type and severity of a stroke for 68 per cent of patients.

The pre-hospital test was able to detect whether the patient was having an ischemic stroke – the most common type, which occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel of the brain – and also whether the blocked cerebral blood vessel was large or small.

This distinction determines the treatment: if the vessel is large, the patient must be taken to a specialised hospital where the clot can be surgically removed; if the blocked vessel is smaller, the patient can receive blood thinning medication at a more suitable facility.

In a statement, Jonathan Coutinho, neurologist at Amsterdam UMC, said: “When it comes to a stroke, ‘time is brain’. The sooner we start the right treatment, the better the outcome. If the diagnosis is already clear in the ambulance, the patient can be routed directly to the right hospital, which saves valuable time.”


Researchers had previously found that up to 83 per cent of stroke patients with a larger blood clot are initially transported to a non-specialist, non-EVT stroke centre, thus needing a further transfer. On average, this was found to delay the correct treatment by 39-114 minutes and is associated with a 7.8 - 21.4 per cent lower chance of functional independence after 90 days.

Amsterdam UMC has recognised the need to improve the accuracy of the portable EEG device, and has founded the company TrianecT, to develop the technology and bring the cap to market.

A follow-up study named AI-STROKE is currently ongoing to collect more data and develop an algorithm for improved stroke recognition . The Dutch Heart Foundation has also recognised the importance of this research and has funded €4m for large-scale research into faster treatment of ischemic stroke.