Studying the Brain

New magnetic resonance hardware and software imaging (MRI) technologies aimed at acquiring high-resolution images of the brain are helping doctors better understand physiology, function and structure.

“The brain has always been a hard thing to study,” said Jeff Immelt, former Chairman and CEO of GE, noting that the diagnosis of concussions tends to be more subjective than objective.

“Recently, we’ve collaborated with the NFL to really advance the science,” Immelt said. “We have scanners like never before.”

“When you can diagnose it better, when you can image it better, certainly you can treat concussions better,” he said, “but the end game is to be able to prevent them in the future.”

The “MRI Brain Coil”

The GE/NFL Head Health Initiative has fostered the development of several novel magnetic resonance hardware and software imaging technologies aimed at acquiring high resolution images of the brain to better understand physiology, function and structure.

One innovation, a new MRI brain coil, fits around a patient’s head. Forty-eight antennas incorporated into the brain coil produce brain images faster, with higher resolution and increased clarity.

Not only can these coils produce better images, they can also aid in speeding up imaging times and reduce overall exam times.

Football and Beyond

GE’s Jeff Immelt sees the major impact these innovations can have.

“Sports is just a small part of where our clinical efforts are heading,” he said, noting the application of these technologies for the general population as well as the military.

For Immelt, GE’s collaboration with the NFL to improve head health is personal.

“My best teachers were football coaches,” said Immelt. “The study of competitiveness, the lessons I learned about teamwork, trying hard, learning from failure—all of those things I got from playing football.”

Immelt said partnerships with “great conveners” like the NFL can help “get the best clinicians” to drive brain science forward.

Speaking of this successful partnership between GE and the NFL, Immelt said, “This is very important science and we feel like some really breakthrough technologies have taken place because of it.”

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