The OPM Collaboration
In partnership with Young Epilepsy, The OPM Collaboration aims to raise the voice of young people with epilepsy by co-developing key elements of a new brain scanning technology (see below). Through a series of workshops and prototyping activities in schools, we will work with young people with epilepsy and other complex needs to develop the following design elements:
- Fun, engaging and comfortable helmets to wear whilst being scanned
- Mood balancing and enjoyable games and tasks to perform before, during and after being scanned
- Resources to explain and demystify the process of being scanned
By involving young people in this project, we aim to make the scanning experience better and more stress-free, thereby increasing their engagement during the process. Enabling longer scans with more engaged, comfortable individuals, translates directly into better quality scans and therefore more accurate results and better health outcomes for these individuals.
The lead researcher behind the project, Professor Gareth Barnes, Principal Investigator at UCL: “This work is potentially transformative for young people suffering from epilepsy; their input at these early stages will be essential for the success of the project.”
About the Research
Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a technique used to map brain activity. It works by measuring the magnetic field produced when neurons in the brain signal between one another. MEG scans are especially useful in epilepsy, because they can pinpoint areas of the brain causing seizures without an invasive procedure. However, MEG systems are rare because of their size and expense. They also require people being scanned to stay very still, meaning they are often unsuitable for some people including children.
Optically Pumped Magnetoencephalography (OP-MEG) removes the need for those being scanned to keep still. It will allow us to not only identify seizure sites non-invasively, but also perform essential tasks even whilst the person is moving allowing clinicians and researchers to gather new types of information from the active brain to better understand it. This makes OP-MEG an extremely exciting new development in this field and will enable more young people and those with complex needs to have scans. Increasing the number of young people with epilepsy who can be scanned means that more treatment options (including surgery) will be available for more individuals, thereby increasing the quality of life for many young people.
The project, established in 2019, is funded on a Research Enrichment Grant and will be completed in 2021.