Monday, February 21, 2011

Remote Stethoscope

Students scope out solutions to big challenges on spring break

Part One: Preflight

Less than four months ago, eight students and graduate students from Biomedical, Mechanical, and Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan committed to spending their spring break on a mission to address a big global challenge.

They are heading to Guatemala…not in search a good time for themselves but to do some good for others.

Each year approximately 1,600 infants born in Guatemala are afflicted with a malformed heart, which can cause permanent brain, lung, and heart damage or death if not treated surgically within weeks of birth. Proper diagnosis in remote areas is a serious problem. And this team intends to do something about that.

The device will record the infant heartbeat, save it as an audio file, and transmit the file over the high-bandwidth cellular phone network to physicians in Guatemala City. These physicians will then assess the heart sounds and send notification of whether or not the child requires surgery. If corrective surgery is required, the Aldo CastaƱeda Foundation will offer the procedure free of charge.

“Hopefully by providing an easy to use screening tool, accessible to those in rural areas, we will help get those who need the surgery into the hands of those who can provide it,” says M-HEAL team member Nathaniel Skinner. “What we are bringing to Guatemala this break is far from the solution, and much of what we will be doing is needs assessment, and learning how a future solution can interface successfully with the users. However, as this will undoubtedly be a multi-year project, we are confident in the advances the next iterations will bring.”

The team from M-HEAL is collaborating with the Appropriate Technologies Collaborative (ATC), an Ann Arbor-based non-profit design firm that specializes in designing for low-income individuals, particularly those in Guatemala. They will create an enhanced stethoscope device developed in conjunction with the Dr. Aldo CastaƱeda Foundation to help triage infants across the country.

As the team embarks on their quest, LabLog will be observing via our embedded journalist Marcin Szczepanski, Multimedia Content Producer/U-M, CoE. Follow the story here and on our tumblr blog:

1 comment:

  1. I will be following closely. Good luck!
    Merilynne Rush