PROJECTS

Current Projects

Post-Stroke Hand Spasticity Mitigation

As a common post-stroke condition, there are a variety of hand spasticity rehabilitation devices on the market today that target various severity levels of the disorder and utilize different rehab techniques, with the end goal of increasing range of motion and regaining the use of their hand. However, there still remains a lack of consensus on which forms of rehabilitation for post-stroke hand spasticity are most effective, and many devices can be impractical for use in everyday life. The team’s goal is to design a primarily mechanical device that solves one or more of these major issues.

The team’s proposed solution is to redesign a dynamic hand splint to incorporate a network of sensors that monitor movement, time spent using the device, and applied assistive force, among other parameters. These sensors will hypothetically be able to monitor and quantify the rehabilitation process so that approaches can be tailored to treat specific individuals. The tracking of quantifiable metrics will allow for the device to be used outside of the clinic and away from the supervision of an Occupational Therapist (OT); OTs can assign exercises relating to the device for patients to complete at home, and analyse the recorded metrics at subsequent weekly or bi-weekly appointments. The OT will be able to use this data to track milestones, update exercise programs, and assess progress. The dynamic splint component will help the user to extend the muscles of the hand by providing an assistive extensor force for the wrist and fingers. It will also include a locking mechanism that can lock the splint in various positions in order to incorporate the benefits of static splinting and further prevent muscle contracture and soft tissue shortening.

SaeboGlove proposed for redesign.

Accessible Pregnancy Care Team

Through communication with patients, nurses, technologists, obstetricians and researchers of health and disability, it has been identified that women with disabilities are subjected to an absence of leg and hip support during transvaginal ultrasounds. For a transvaginal ultrasound to be performed, the doctor or technologist must have access to the woman’s pelvic region with unconstrained vertical range of motion for the ultrasound probe. To meet these requirements, women have the option to raise their legs with their pelvic region at the end of the ultrasound table or raise their hips off the table. Physical disabilities vary drastically in terms of range of mobility and comfort, resulting in unique leg positioning for each woman and, regularly, and inability to lift their hips off the ultrasound table.

A need for a device to raise the hips of women and a device to support the thighs and calves of women with disabilities during transvaginal ultrasounds is required to aid prevention of preterm delivery and improve obstetrical and gynecological care experiences. The devices must be adjustable to accommodate the needs of women with varying degrees of mobility, weights and hospital rooms. In addition, an educational system will need to be implemented with the devices. The education system should include information on proper care and accommodation of women with disabilities and applications to pregnancy, to improve experiences in clinical settings.

The Accessible Care Pregnancy Clinic at Sunnybrook Hospital is a clinic specifically designed to meet the needs of pregnant women with disabilities. The problem presented of lack of leg and hip support for transvaginal ultrasounds was presented through contact with the clinic, by Dr. Anne Berndl and her coworkers, including nurses and technologist.

Widely Accessible and Secure Pill Dispenser 

The current general objective for this project is to design and develop a more accessible container for patients to store their prescription medications. Current designs for prescription medication containers are equipped with child safety mechanisms that while being effective to protect children, can also pose real difficulties for those afflicted with a number of different disabilities. Although there exists many easy to open containers on the market, these alternatives defeat the purpose of the original designs and compromise on safety for improved usability.

The vision for this project is to develop an alternative to conventional prescription medication containers which will focus on accessibility for those with disabilities without compromising on security. The disabilities identified thus far which will be primarily targeted with the design will be motor impairments (arthritis, Parkinson’s, etc.), vision impairment, and to a lesser extent memory impairment. The final selected design will incorporate elements to aid with the specific difficulties caused by each of these impairments and will ensure that a patient’s medication packaging will never get in the way of them receiving their potentially lifesaving medication. Aside from accessibility, the secondary functional improvement of the selected design over conventional containers will be with improved security against unauthorized access to medications through fingerprint security. This secondary functionality will serve to protect medications which possess the potential for abuse or theft such as prescription opioids.

Click HERE to read about the initial inspiration for this project...

Fostering Innovation

This team of five bright engineers won QBiT's first Global Biomedical Engineering Challenge, for which we offered them academic, financial and operative resources. They have designed an effective warming system for pre-term, low-weight newborns in Zimbabwe, using inexpensive, accessible materials that will combat hypothermia. The wrap prevents the loss of bodily fluids and maintains the baby’s temperature at a healthy level. This swaddle will be attached closely to the caregiver in a modified traditional African carrying manner, exposing the baby to the caregiver’s heat and bacteria required for the development of a strong immune system.

 

The team is making their designs a reality and hope to successfully implement this solution in Zimbabwe, Africa.

"QBIT has been very helpful in supplying us with professional contacts in the fields of neo-natal health, biomechanical design and African culture. Additionally, QBIT has provided us with a strong support system to guide us in addressing the problem of hypothermia in Zimbabwe"

Past Projects

Diagnostic Monitoring Infant Pacifier
 

Babies are very sensitive to germs and viruses, which can be a very large concern for parents of children with increased risk of disease or limited access to care. QBiT has decided to design and prototype an affordable baby soother that monitors the health of the baby through it's saliva. If the monitor detects any irregular levels of cortisol in the babies saliva, the monitor will indicate this to the parent through a phone app, which allows them to take the precautionary measures required to improve the babies health. This project is lead by Adam Maceachern and Emily Rae.

Knee-Ankle-Foot-Orthotic
 

Much research is done in the development of prosthetics and orthotics for use in developed countries, there is an extreme shortage of innovation devoted to finding affordable options for those in less developed countries. It is estimated that only 25% of those who require an orthotic device have access to such, and over half of that percentage receive a piece that is already broken or damaged. The team's project in the 2015-2016 year was to develop a modular, economical version of a knee-ankle-foot orthotic (KAFO).

KAFOs are used for a variety of biomechanical disabilities and therefore there are many variations of the KAFO. The general function of a KAFO is to reduce force on the knee from walking and to additionally reduce the ability for the knee to flex during gait. Most KAFOs offer a fully locked position as well as a free-swinging position. The most common disabilities requiring a KAFO in developing countries are muscular dystrophy, foot drop and polio. These disabilities call for a device that removes force from the knee and ankle, but is customizable to fit varying levels of deformities in the knee.

The final design included an extremely modular (containing over 20 removable components) orthotic which is customizable in both width around the knee and height in the proximal and distal regions of the leg. The design includes a unique 3-position knee mechanism that is fully mechanical. If the model was taken to large-scale manufacturing, it is estimated that it could be produced for under $1000 per device.

The final design was presented at the LIMBS International Summit on June 3rd, in El Paso, Texas, and was awarded 3rd place in the international competition. 

Specialized Arm Prosthetic
 

In third world countries, many amputees who without access to advanced prosthetics lose their jobs due to their lack of mobility and physical abilities. QBiT's goal is to create specialized upper limb prosthetics that are specifically designed to execute certain jobs that are common in these countries. These prosthetics are much more affordable than fully automated prosthetics, due to their ease of construction and materials required, and will hopefully allow people who have lost their limb, the ability to continue working. 

Assistive Back Brace for Swimmers
 

This project was completed in cooperation with Penguins Can Fly, a swim team local to Kingston, Ontario that noted that their disabled swimmers (specifically those with cerebral palsy) had difficulty in establishing core stability while swimming, and essentially were swimming with an extremely arched back. The brace developed by QBiT was a training-aid meant to give the swimmer a physical reminder to keep a neutral spine during their stroke. The device strapped onto the back and, when the back was arched, would cause discomfort in the low back. The device, unlike others on the market, was designed to be adjustable for different sized swimmers ranging from 5'0 to 6'0.

Have an idea for a project that QBiT should consider?

App for Post Concussion Syndrome Mitigation

This project aims to mitigate the symptoms and negative quality of life impacts associated with Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS). The concept for the project is to develop an app that helps individuals monitor their tolerances regarding physical activity and symptoms through measuring and monitoring heart rate. The app will also provide additional information that the individual can use for activity recommendations. The target audience of the app is youth athletes, however any individual will be able to access the app. The goal of the project is to enable individuals with PCS to return to activity without experiencing severe symptoms and provide documentation for the user and health care professionals. 

© 2018 by Queen's Biomedical Innovation Team.