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(NBC NEWS) --When paramedics are called to help someone who's suffered a blow to the head they must sometimes make educated guesses as to how severely the brain has been injured.

Now a handheld device is revolutionizing the way some paramedics assess traumatic brain injuries.

Fire Chief Marc Neumann and his team are among a growing number of first responders using the "Infrascanner 2000."

It helps detect bleeding in the brain after a person suffers a head injury.

"We can actually see an easy to read value of what's going on inside the patient's head so basically we can get them to the hospital a lot quicker," Neumann says.

It's a portable device that allows medical staff to see brain bleeds early, before having to put the patient through CT or MRI scans.

"It really is unique and the first time that you're able to tell what's going on inside the skull," says UH Case Medical Center neurosurgeon Dr. Warren Selman.

Dr. Selman says the clock starts ticking from the moment bleeding begins in the brain, causing potentially life threatening "secondary injuries."

"We have a narrow amount of time to get that blood out of the brain or from pressing on the brain before those secondary injuries become even more difficult to treat," he explains.

The scanner earned its stripes in the U.S military.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed on as well.

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