A portable topographic near-infrared spectroscopic (NIRS) imaging system has been developed to provide real-time temporal and spatial information about the cortical response to stimulation in unrestrained infants. The optical sensing array is lightweight, flexible, and easy to apply to infants ranging from premature babies in intensive care to children in a normal environment. The sensor pad consists of a flexible double-sided circuit board onto which are mounted multiple sources (light-emitting diodes) and multiple detectors (p-i-n photodiodes), all electrically encapsulated in silicone rubber. The control electronics are housed in a box with a medical grade isolated power supply and linked to a PC fitted with a data acquisition card, the signal acquisition and analysis being performed using LABVIEW™. The signal output is displayed as an image of oxy- and deoxyhemoglobin concentration ([HbO2], [Hb]) changes at a frame rate of 3 Hz. Experiments have been conducted on phantoms to determine the sensitivity of the system, and the results have been compared to theoretical simulations. The system has been tested in volunteers by imaging changes in forearm muscle oxygenation, following blood pressure cuff occlusion to obtain typical [Hb] and [HbO2] plots.

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