School: Academy For Tech & Classics
Area of Science: Medicine and Health
Interim: Problem Definition: A developmental delay is categorized as a child’s inability to reach a developmental milestone within two standard deviations below the mean after the standard age a child gains the skill. Developmental delays can present in 5 areas: fine motor, gross motor, social, language, and cognitive. As of a 2008 study, one in six children is affected by a developmental delay, with the prevalence of developmental delays increasing by almost 20% since 1997. This means that 1.8 million more children have developmental delays. Because of the extreme relevance of developmental delays, it is important to be able to diagnose them as early and as efficiently as possible, as to avoid further complications that arise from undiagnosed delays. Neurological disorders are an issue that affect over one billion people throughout the world. We believe that computer science can provide a more efficient way not only to devise treatments for these disorders by modeling brain functions, but also in detecting them early on. This can be accomplished by using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). MRI scans can provide detailed images of soft tissue, such as the brain. These scans show light and dark spots on various areas of the brain, supplying valuable information regarding lesions, tumors, and other anomalies. However, the issue with these scans is that interpreting them is time-consuming, making it an inefficient way to diagnose the millions of cases of brain disorders. This is where computer science can be used. A program can be devised to diagnose the disorder caused by an abnormal brain scan by comparing it to a normal MRI, saving countless hours of examining MRI scans.
Problem Solution: We plan to help speed up the process of recognizing and diagnosing development delays by creating a code that is able to determine abnormalities in MRI’s of the brain. Our finished code should be able to import the MRI and compare it to a MRI without any developmental delays or other brain related abnormalities. The code will then be able to locate the area of the abnormality, and tell if this is an abnormality is related to a developmental delay or is the cause of something. This information will then be conveyed to the user.
Progress to Date: Currently, we have the majority of our research about the causes of developmental delays, as well as how they present in brain MRIs. We are in contact with a doctor in attempt to gain access to real MRIs to make our code as accurate as possible. We will be utilizing parts of a past code we developed for last year’s Supercomputing Challenge in our new code.
Expected Results: To create this program, we are planning on creating a code to analyze the changes in dark or light spots on the brain. The location of these spots combined with the intensity of its shade will enable researchers to determine the brain disorder. This code could transform the approach for diagnosing neurological disorders, making it more efficient. This would allow people to seek out treatment at an early stage. This program could be modified and used to aid the millions of people dealing with neurological disorders.
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“Developmental Delay.” My Child Without Limits , United Cerebral Palsy, www.mychildwithoutlimits.org/understand/developmental-delay/.
“Facts About Developmental Disabilities.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/developmentaldisabilities/facts.html.
“Key Findings: Developmental Disabilities Prevalence Trends .” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/developmentaldisabilities/features/birthdefects-dd-keyfindings.ht ml.
Sprawls, Perry. “Tissue Magnetization and Relaxation.” Sprawls, Sprawls Educational Foundation, www.sprawls.org/mripmt/MRI04/index.html.
Sponsoring Teacher: Jenifer Hooten
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