An Invitation: 14th Semi-Annual Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering Senior Design Presentations and Demonstrations
Bio-absorbable Spinal Fusion
A common procedure used to prevent spinal cord injury due to degeneration of intervertebral discs is to fuse two vertebrae in the spine using a spinal cage. Current cages are made of metals like titanium, which make it challenging to monitor patient recovery since many imaging techniques, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), cannot be used on patients with metal implants. Team BECT is developing a novel spinal cage made from a metal that will degrade while bone fusion is occurring so that normal bone replaces the degraded metal. This design will result in the patient having no residual metal left in the body once the vertebrae have been fused.
Monitoring Drug Penetration in Skin
Determining the concentration profile of a drug in skin can provide insight into the drug’s mechanism of action, duration in the skin, and overall efficacy of topical treatments. Current imaging modalities are not capable of analyzing drug penetration through the skin without tagging the drug molecule which affects the molecule’s function. We have developed a procedural method using Stimulated Raman Scattering (SRS) microscopy to assess concentrations of molecules within thin layers of tissue without using molecular tags (i.e., label-free imaging). Our procedure was developed using a simplified skin model, consisting of agarose gel to mimic the diffusivity properties of skin. The process was verified using a porcine skin model and Vitamin E as a test drug.
Fetal Heart Rate Monitor
Many infant fatalities in the developing world could be prevented with early detection of complications through the use of fetal heart-rate monitoring. However, in developing nations there are few affordable and ruggedly designed fetal heart-rate monitors (FHRM). To address these needs we have developed a FHRM that is low-cost, shockproof, and waterproof. Our innovative approach uses audio feedback to monitor the heart rate and provide visual and audible signals to the user. Our device will enhance prenatal care in developing countries.
Assessment of Colorectal Cancer Screening Strategies
Colorectal Cancer is the second deadliest cancer in the United States mainly due to inefficiencies in screening parameters and processes. Currently, preventative screening for colorectal cancer is managed through a physician-directed treatment schedule primarily consisting of a colonoscopy every ten years. While this strategy is relatively successful, issues with patient compliance and failure to track and treat high-risk patients more aggressively reduces the effectiveness of current treatment strategies. To address these shortcomings, a colorectal cancer screening management website was developed for medical clinics. This program is able to estimate a patient's risk for colorectal cancer based on patient demographics, recommend a screening strategy for the patient, promote patient compliance through an electronic notification system, and more accurately predict risk over time based on the long term outcome of patient treatment. This approach is novel in the way it enables multiple clinics to track and manage large quantities of patient data and treatment outcomes. This program will improve the efficacy of colorectal cancer treatment by enabling preventive care to be more patient-specific and better tracked.
Wearing a knee brace during athletic activities is one mechanism that can be used to minimize injuries. However, users often choose not to use these devices due to a loss in joint motion and discomfort. Our proposed solution is a reduced size, lightweight knee brace that is strong enough to handle the wear and tear of use by a football player. The brace frame is composed of aluminum, making it compact and strong. The brace bends at a hinge joint allowing uninhibited forward and backward motion while maintaining a specified range of motion. Our enhanced design will promote wearer compliance and thus reduce knee ligament injuries during athletic activities.
Solution to Vocal Cord Paralysis
Vocal fold paralysis (VFP) which hampers breathing, swallowing, and speech affects over 50,000 patients annually. The primary solution to treat VFP is arytenoid abduction that involves the use of a permanent suture to bind the vocal cord into a fixed open position. This procedure will remove any airway obstructions, but removes the patient’s speaking capability. To address the limitations of the arytenoid abduction we have developed a spring loaded suture, which allows for dynamic movement of the adduction muscles to allow for vocalization. Our innovative design will improve breathing and eating, while retaining the patient’s ability to speak.