Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Students' Device Allows ICU Patients To Get Back On Their Feet

Date:
June 2, 2008
Source:
Johns Hopkins University
Summary:
Students have designed and built a device to enable critically ill intensive care unit patients to leave their beds and walk while remaining tethered to essential life-support equipment. The invention allows doctors to better understand whether carefully supervised rehabilitation, as opposed to continuous sedation and bed rest, can improve the recovery of intensive care patients.

Johns Hopkins biomedical engineering students Erica Jantho, Hanlin Wan and Swarnali Sengupta test their team's ICU MOVER, a mobility aid designed to safely ambulate critical care patients.
Credit: Photo by Will Kirk

Johns Hopkins undergraduates have designed and built a device to enable critically ill intensive care unit patients to leave their beds and walk while remaining tethered to essential life-support equipment. The invention allows doctors to better understand whether carefully supervised rehabilitation, as opposed to continuous sedation and bed rest, can improve the recovery of intensive care patients.

Some clinicians believe that allowing ICU patients to get out of bed and walk could avert some of the muscle weakness, bedsores and depression that typically develop when these patients are kept heavily sedated and confined to bed. Because such patients usually must remain connected to an artificial breathing machine, heart monitors and intravenous lines with essential medications, a simple walk down the hall can require four staff members to accompany the patient.

To reduce this staffing demand and improve this new ICU rehabilitation program, a physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital last year asked students in a biomedical engineering design team course to devise a mobility aid for ICU patients. Over two semesters, the students, supervised by faculty members and graduate students and advised by hospital staff, produced a device called the ICU MOVER Aid. This device has two components: a novel mobility aid that combines the rehabilitative features of a walker and the safety features of a wheelchair, and a separate wheeled tower to which important life-support equipment can be attached.

"The finished product is truly outstanding," said physician Dale Needham, an assistant professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. "The most recent version of the MOVER is far beyond a rough prototype. The students exceeded everyone's expectations in designing a device that we could routinely use in the Medical ICU."

To help him improve the new Medical ICU rehabilitation program at Johns Hopkins, Needham had challenged the students to produce a device that would meet three key criteria. First, it had to provide physical support for the patient during walking. Second, it had to safely house all necessary monitoring and therapeutic equipment for critically ill patients. Finally, it needed a safety backup system for patients who must immediately sit down because of fatigue or a sudden change in their medical condition.

"We ended up building three versions," said Joshua Lerman, a senior biomedical engineering student who served as team leader. "First, we used PVC pipes to work on the basic design. Then, we made an aluminum version. We made the final prototype mostly of steel. All through the process we got feedback from the hospital's ICU staff, who told us what we needed to change to make it better suit patients' needs. All of the staff involved in the ICU rehabilitation program were very happy with the final version."

This final version features a walker type framework, similar to devices that some frail or elderly people use to get around. Immediately behind the patient, however, a fabric seat is attached to the frame so that a tired patient can sit down. The seat can also "catch" a patient who abruptly collapses because of a medical problem. "We made the seat out of ballistic nylon because we didn't want it to rip," said Lerman, 22, from Delray Beach, Fla. "It's durable, and it's easy to clean for infection-control purposes."

As a separate component, the prototype features a tower designed to accommodate two oxygen tanks and three medical devices: a cardiac monitor, intravenous infusion pumps to provide medications, and a ventilator to support breathing. Despite all of the equipment attached to it, the MOVER prototype was small enough to maneuver through the Medical ICU's narrow hallways, although using it in the ICU patient rooms, which are particularly small, proved to be more challenging. In terms of improved efficiency, the inventors said, the MOVER requires only two hospital staff members to accompany the walking patient, compared with four staff under the earlier system.

Needham, the project's faculty sponsor, said, "We've tried this device on one MICU patient so far, and we are certainly keen to continue using it as part of our physical medicine and rehabilitation program in the Medical ICU at Johns Hopkins. The MOVER worked as well with the real patient as it did when we tested it with the biomedical engineering students serving as simulated patients."

At a recent competition for Johns Hopkins biomedical engineering design projects, the MOVER's team took second-place honors. The student inventors and their faculty mentors have obtained a provisional patent for the device and are exploring commercialization opportunities. Needham said much will depend on how quickly other hospitals adopt new therapies in the ICU setting to improve patient recovery. "With the increasing interest in early mobility for ICU patients and the emerging scientific evidence supporting the benefit of this approach," he said, "I think there is a strong commercial future for the MOVER device."

In addition to Lerman, the undergraduates who worked on this project were Ravy Vajravelu, Derrick Kuan, Jeremy Elser, Erica Jantho, Jinjie Chen, Hanlin Wan and Swarnali Sengupta. The design course is taught by Robert Allen, an associate research professor and senior lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins University. "Students' Device Allows ICU Patients To Get Back On Their Feet." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080529091053.htm>.
Johns Hopkins University. (2008, June 2). Students' Device Allows ICU Patients To Get Back On Their Feet. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080529091053.htm
Johns Hopkins University. "Students' Device Allows ICU Patients To Get Back On Their Feet." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080529091053.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A Florida doctor who helped fight the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa says the disease can be stopped, but only if nations quickly step up their response and make border control a priority. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins