Monday, August 18, 2014

Meet Tracy Abildskov, Owner of TJ's Biomedical Imaging

Tracy Abildskov is the owner of TJ's Biomedical Imaging. He started as a student and began working around 1991 in the Brain Imaging and Behavior Lab at Brigham Young University. After several years, he developed some skills at illustrating different types of brain damage. In 1997, he started a small business developing interactive 3D presentations to help experts explain to juries the location and extent of brain damage. The visuals are objective, based on many years of science and research. To create the presentations, he uses a variety of imaging modalities like MRI, CT, SPECT & DTI. Radiologist reports and neuropsychologists' reports along with imaging techniques are used to identify the abnormalities seen by the radiologist. Models are then created, rendered, and incorporated into trial exhibits, medical illustrations, interactive 3D presentations, and physical models.

Learn more about the services provided by TJ's Biomedical Imaging and find out how 3D biomedical imaging works by exploring the samples linked here.

1. How do your 3D presentations allow viewers to better understand the way brain damage affects the brain?

After someone get injured in an accident, bones heal, hair grows back, and scars become less apparent. The problem is the brain does not come back as well as it was before the accident. Reserves are used, if not depleted. Abilities, like memory, planning, judgment, problem solving, vision, learning, and language spoken or understood, to name a few, are compromised or lost. Yet on the surface, a person might look fine. What I do is take whatever scans are available to me (MRI, CT, PET, SPECT, DTI or FMRI) and working in conjunction with neuro-psychologists or neuro-radiologists develop accurate, objective, personalized, 3D representations of that person's brain. These graphics then make things easier for the average person to understand what is going on when the expert starts explaining things.

2. Why are 3D exhibits a good way to demonstrate the extent of damage to laypeople such as jurors?

Instead of a generic model that is adapted to everyone, you can see John Smith's brain. You can see where the damage is. It can sometimes be hard for someone who has not been looking at scans for a few years to be able to recognize where the abnormalities are.

In the link below, you can see a simple video showing several co-registered scans. When paused you can see how each slice looks different while still looking at the same part of the brain. These differences are due to changes in the MRI parameters. Each sequence (T1, T2, FLAIR, PD, GRE) tell the neuro-radiologist something unique about the brain.

My job, as I see it, is to take all those complicated images, of which there might be thousands, and distill things down to the most relevant pieces of information that the experts can then use the educate judge or jury.

3. When creating exhibits meant for juries, are you generally collaborating with attorneys or doctors or both?

Each specialty (law, psychology, radiology, and rehab) brings a unique perspective when looking at the injured person. I then work with everyone to create demonstrative exhibits that can be used for the benefit for the injured person.

4. What are some other uses of your 3D presentations in addition to courtroom exhibits?

Everyone today is being asked to go faster and faster. Radiologists are asked to look at thousands of images and generate a report in 15 minutes or less. I am trying to expand my service into the medical profession to provide a quick overview on what the radiologist needs to focus on so they can be more accurate in their diagnostic impression. I also want to make things quicker and easier for the rehab specialist as well so they don't waste time on therapies that will be of no value to the injured person. There are so many different areas where this could help, but for right now it mostly used in a courtroom setting.

5. What would you most like our readers to understand about your work?

That there is more to a person than what they see on the surface. If you understand what is going on in the brain, you can better understand why the injured person is having problems.

Thanks, Tracy!

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