Problem or Issue. The broad purpose of this IPRO project is to rethink available assistive technologies for people with neuromuscular issues, such as Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Guillain Barre Syndrome, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) and Muscular Dystrophy. In addition to drug-based treatments, adults and children affected by any of these conditions undergo substantial physical therapy and rehabilitative treatments for managing their condition as they work toward treatment. There is a huge need for innovations in this area, some of which have been identified in this article: http://www.slideshare.net/Healthstartup/hsu5-topic-presentationfinal.
Since the majority of these assistive technologies are billed through insurance, they are extremely cost-prohibitive for anyone that does not have adequate coverage. For example, a sophisticated gait trainer for a child with developmental delays (delay in walking) can be over $5,000. However, approval for such devices is subject to a diagnosis that identifies a clear need for each device. This could leave several users unable to upgrade or even purchase them without significant financial assistance. This IPRO project will investigate if and how designs can be simplified through the use of lighter, inexpensive (yet sturdy) materials for design, as well as integration of electromechanical actuators and user feedback options that are modular and can easily be retrofitted to devices currently in the market.
Objective. This IPRO project will serve stroke patients and people with specific neuropathies that require significant physical therapy and rehabilitation. The goals of this IPRO are to look at several conditions listed below that can apply technology and creative design concepts to improve quality of life:
Approach. This IPRO project is fundamentally interdisciplinary. Since the stakeholders are families of the patient and not just those that are affected by these conditions, any innovation in this area requires input from multiple areas of engineering (electrical, computer, biomedical, mechanical, etc.); computer science; psychology; design; business and psychology. The objective is to understand the specific challenges faced by people affected by these conditions and invent assistive technologies to provide users with independence and improved quality of life. The outcome of this IPRO project should be prototype aids that allow affected patients to undertake specified physical therapy (especially outside of appointed PT and rehab hours), independently without significant intervention and as they fulfill their daily activities.
The IPRO project will focus on analysis and innovation as the main goal. A perfect example for the type of innovation we will attempt would be the Google spoon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99t5c6j8BR0), which helps people with significant hand tremors or the power assist wheelchair designed at Illinois Tech (https://magazine.iit.edu/spring-2016/citizen-scientists). Students from various disciplines will have an opportunity to think outside the box, work in small teams and putting their ideas into practice.
There are four key aspects in physical therapy and rehabilitation that will be explored in this IPRO project: