Discipline: Technology and Engineering
Subcategory: Biomedical Engineering
Kaila B. Trawitzki - New Jersey Institute of Technology
Co-Author(s): Mert K. Nacir, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, NJ ; Kyle F. Dobiszewski, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, NJ
The majority of individuals with Cerebral Palsy, 93%, will experience feeding difficulties. Since Cerebral Palsy results in impairment of muscle groups, facial muscles can be affected. The facial muscles are one of the strongest muscle groups in the body. Impairment hampers a child’s ability to chew, suck, or swallow, thereby creating a high risk for undernourishment, failure to thrive, malnutrition, growth delay, and digestive difficulties.
Many do not consider the collateral implications of oral impairment. Furthermore, patients can often face anxiety and depression due to lack of confidence and autonomy. By providing sensory stimulation and repeated motion, excessive muscle tension can be managed, while muscle memory will strengthen their individual feeding capabilities. This is especially crucial for children, as this device can greatly improve their home and school life (furthermore, the sooner they begin treatment, the better the outcome will be and the condition will be more manageable)
Parents and caregivers benefit because as a patient progresses, raising a child with Cerebral Palsy becomes less labor intensive. Parents and caregivers are often overwhelmed and under an extreme level of stress. They have several responsibilities, including assisting their child with many physical tasks, providing love and emotional support, making sure the child is receiving adequate care in a medical setting and an education at school. The more physical challenges a child can overcome or adapt to, the less hands-on assistance is required of the parents.
Therefore, this ongoing research (through the NSF I-Corps grant program) allows me to develop a vibrational therapy device targeted at specific points on the jaw in order to reduce spasticity, improve muscle tone over time, and eventually allow the patient to eat independently and reduce caregiver costs and burdens. The device is in the prototyping stages, but the prototype will be completed and I will meet with potential customers by December. By March, I will reach a GO/NO GO decision regarding applying for further grants and officially forming my startup.
Methods include prototyping through CAD software and Arduino, instrumentation, and clinical trials. If selected for presentation, I will update my final abstract with results and conclusions.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): NSF I-Corps program via NJIT
Faculty Advisor: Kyle Dobiszewski, PhD, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: I designed the device concept and formally applied for and received the NSF grant. This is my original idea, and I may file for a patent at some point or go the venture capitalist route, pending results in March.