Project: Redesign of Local Trauma Equipment

19 05 2010

Summary: Nearly all of the equipment needed to treat trauma patients in Zambia is imported. This causes multiple problems ranging from high costs to maintenance. There is a critical need for local design and manufacture of trauma equipment that will undoubtedly save countless lives. In this regard, this comprehensive project focuses on first understanding and analyzing the role and function of trauma equipment. The project will then do a needs assessment of these pieces of equipment. Finally, the project will focus on mechanical analysis, design and manufacturing of these pieces of equipment. Currently, we are focusing on simple mechanical devices including spinal precautions, C-spine collars for Cervical Spine protection, simple suction/water seal system for Chest Tube placement and drainage, locally made orthopedic splints and weight systems for setting fractures. All of these pieces of equipment are routinely used but are too costly for the hospital to procure regularly. Additionally, with the unique needs of patients, these pieces need to be available locally with robust designs. Design and manufacture of these pieces of equipment will integrate engineering efforts with a dire medical need in trauma and critical care. The project will involve close collaboration with UNZA school of medicine, departments of orthopaedics, surgery and critical care and the UTH in Lusaka.

Objectives:

A critical needs assessment of trauma equipment.

Design and analysis of mechanical components of trauma equipment.

Local manufacturability to produce robust, cheap and easy to use equipment.

Student Tasks:

To carry out extensive assessment of needs and current status of trauma equipment.

To identify the failures in current trauma equipment and quantitatively analyze the reasons for failure.

To design robust, cheap and easy to use trauma equipment.

To evaluate local manufacturability of these components.






Project: Redesign for orthopaedic equipment to correct clubfoot.

19 05 2010

Project: Redesign for orthopaedic equipment to correct clubfoot.

Summary: Clubfoot is a common problem in infants and children in Zambia, whereby children a unable to carry out normal activities such as walking or running due to the angle of the feet. Fortunately, this problem can be corrected with a simple biomechanical device that consists of a metal bar connected to shoes at an appropriate angle and flexibility. However, this simple device is currently imported from abroad and any local manufacturing is done without any scientific basis or analysis. The current project will focus on first analyzing the problem in terms of the mechanics of the bone  and then developing a simple device that is easy to manufacture, is robust and is able to keep the feet at appropriate angles without causing major stresses or other orthopaedic abnormalities. The mechanical testing of the material for appropriate material and stress properties as well as age appropriate angles and flexibility are critical components that need to be addressed. The project will involve close collaboration with UNZA school of medicine, department of orthopaedics and the UTH in Lusaka. Improvements in this design will hopefully lead to better manufacturing and significant improvement in the quality of life of many children facing challenges in mobility.

Objectives:

To carry out computational analysis of loads and stresses devices to correct clubfoot.

To design a simple device to correct clubfoot using the Ponsetti method.

Student Tasks:

To carry out literature review on mechanical analysis of clubbed feet and associated bones and cartillage.

To study redesign and material properties necessary for correcting clubfoot

To investigate the effect of body weight, age, height and disability on loads.

To identify areas of improvement and current bottlenecks.

To investigate the local manufacturability of the device.





Project: Quantitative analysis for evaluating mechanical ventilator parameters

19 05 2010

Summary: Intensive care units at major hospitals in Zambia depend on properly functioning ventilators. These units serve patients in critical conditions and proper functioning of mechanical ventilators in essential in saving countless lives. Currently, in major hospitals in Zambia, the ventilators have poor performance with little information on why they fail or break down. The current project will analyze the performance of mechanical ventilators and quantify the failure of various mechanical components through experimental testing and computational studies. It would also focus on calibration of the equipment in ensuring that the machine outputs match the display values. Another component of the project would focus on a robust design for water (or fluid) system for providing Positive End Expiratory Pressure (or PEEP) valve. This is critical since at the moment there are no automatic PEEP valves anywhere at UTH in Lusaka. This would allow the critical care physicians and nurses to implement this technology in ICUs and save countless lives.

Objectives:

To quantitatively analyze fatigue and failure of mechanical components in ICU ventilators.

To design automatic Positive End Expiratory Pressure Valve.

Student Tasks:

To carry out literature review on mechanical analysis of ICU valves.

To study redesign and material properties necessary for improved ICU valves.

To study the structure and function of PEEP valves.

To design an automatic PEEP valve system.

To implement the automatic PEEP valve in ICUs at UTH in Lusaka.





Project: Crutches

19 05 2010

Summary: Crutches and prosthetics provide support and improve the quality of life of patients affected with temporary or permanent orthopedic disabilities. Unfortunately, the orthopedic designs and materials used commonly in Zambia are not based upon engineering principles and proper stress tests have never been conducted. In an effort to improve the quality and durability of crutches and prosthetics, we propose conducting a detailed computational analysis. The computational analysis will focus on how can these support devices be improved, what materials should be used or avoided and which designs are preferred. The project will involve close collaboration with UNZA school of medicine and the UTH in Lusaka. Improvements in this design will hopefully lead to better manufacturing and significant improvement in the quality of life of amputees and other patients suffering from orthopaedic disabilities.

Objectives:

To carry out computational analysis of loads and stresses on crutches.

To carry out computational mechanics analysis of loads and stresses on prosthetics.

Student Tasks:

To carry out literature review on mechanical analysis of prosthetics.

To study redesign and material properties necessary for improved crutches and prosthetics.

To investigate the effect of body weight, age, height and disability on loads.

To identify areas of improvement and current bottlenecks.

To investigate the local manufacturability of prosthetics and crutches.





Engineering Students. Efficient Solutions. Empowering Society.

19 05 2010

This blog is dedicated to a new initiative started by students and faculty of Biomedical Engineering at BU. The goal is to use simple engineering approaches, ideas, concepts and share them with colleagues and students in engineering, medicine and public health in Zambia to address current challenges. Students at BU and at the University of Zambia, with the help of their faculty colleagues will identify problems that they are able to solve or address and will come up with simple creative solutions.

To keep the costs low and process tractable, we will limit the total budget at $100. In steady state, we hope that this will lead to 100 or so projects a year, each aimed at solving a unique challenge in health-care through innovative engineering approaches.

So why are we doing this?

I got back from Zambia a couple of weeks ago. There I was able to see how much we engineers can do, for so many people and it wouldnt cost us very much. The needs are great, the problems severe but people over there are ready to make a change in their lives and the lives of their kids. If we can provide them with the ideas, approaches and expertise, they themselves will be able to take them to the next step and implement them in creative and innovative ways. I felt that we ought to do something and do it now.

The BIG picture:
After several lengthy discussions, I came up with a “100 x 100” idea — which is actually quite simple. Each year, we do a 100 projects each of which will have a total cost of $100 or less. This sounds super ambitious, right? Well it is. We wont get to 100 ideas/projects in one year, but in steady state we will. The idea is that we will have students here at BU (from public health, engineering and other disciplines) come up with ideas. The ideas will be shared on this blog.

The ideas will then be debated and discussed for feasibility and application from input from you folks as well as others in Zambia and here. Some ideas will be implemented solely in Zambia, others will be done here and some will be split. The goal is two fold

  1. To empower the students of engineering and medicine in Zambia to innovate and implement these ideas.
  2. To have BU students, both undergrad and grad, come up with ideas that improve the lives of folks in Zambia through simple, affordable and tractable projects.

Can we do something for $100?
Of course we can. Think about improving the design of crutches or prosthetics. That is a major problem with disability clinics and other orthopedic clinics in Zambia. Crutches are designed and fabricated by “make shift carpenters”. Students can do a computational analysis of the crutch design and materials and can substantially improve the performance and optimization for various needs. The total cost of this analysis is well below $100 — AND this is something the engineering students in Zambia can easily do. If software is required, we can provide it.

Other examples include pulse-oximeter — we can add a solar panel to it, or charge it with cell phone chargers with less than $100. A “systems analysis” of EID or texting can be done as well.

Sustaining the effort:
We want students to take ownership of this. Students are often busy and can have varying levels of enthusiasm at different stages in their careers, so we want to keep it simple and something they can do easily. We don’t want these projects to be extensive, but small steps that help the community. We will incorporate existing efforts (such as discussions between BME grad students and Public health students) into this framework as well. Eventually, we want to take this to other schools in the Boston area.

Involvement of Public Health and Folks from Zambia:
Students in engineering have no clue about the “ground realities” so we need help from students in public health and those in Zambia to tell us whether something would work or not. We also want the local students in Zambia, as part of their projects, to feel that they are the ones who are equal partners. We want this to be an exercise in sharing ideas, thoughts and suggestions, so the blog would help and create projects that can be like 4th year projects in mechanical engineering at UNZA.

Recruitment:
During the next year, I will be offering a class on “Service engineering” to undergrads, where I will be talking about how engineering can make an impact in public health in developing world. That would be part of this initiative and other similar efforts. Engineers Without Borders is also keen on participating and so are graduate students.

What do we need from you?
We have to start with sharing ideas. I want you guys to help in giving us ideas and analyzing existing ideas for suitability and appropriateness. It wont be a huge time cost, but it would allow in making sure that we use our efforts and time wisely.

So lets get started.








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