The US Army is looking to develop a new device that can optimize the flow of brain and spinal cord fluid, allowing soldiers deployed in difficult missions to have improved sleep.
Researchers from various American universities have been tapped to measure and modulate the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, which assists the brain by draining its waste during sleep. It also helps in absorbing shock and cushioning sudden movements.
One project’s objective is to create a lightweight cap that could work in any situation and is easily transportable. “The Department of Defense asked if we can design a small, portable cap that can measure and modulate the brain health of warfighters during sleep to enhance their performance,” Rice University’s (RU) Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering director Paul Cherukuri explained.
Engineers from RU and physicians from Houston Methodist Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine will lead the first year of research and development for the tech project.
‘Testing Several Techniques’
The army recognizes that soldiers’ fatigue has been a key issue that needs to be addressed to expect better performance during military operations.
For the service, observing and analyzing the glymphatic system of humans could be the solution to help soldiers get a good rest. Aside from removing waste, the system’s cerebral spinal fluid can remove dysfunctional proteins in soldiers’ brains, thereby boosting “brain-restoring powers.”
For the observation phase of the project, the researchers plan to try several techniques, including ultrasound brain stimulation or electromagnetic signaling. All data and information collected from the on-going research will be analyzed using machine learning software being developed at RU.
Preliminary results of the research and development for the experimental “sleeping cap” project are expected to be released within a year.