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Rice students work on weighty problem for doctors
Date:5/9/2012

HOUSTON (May 8, 2012) The best doctors strive to relieve their patients' burdens. A physician in Houston asked Rice University students to help him do so in the most literal way.

A team of bioengineering seniors built a prototype device to literally lift the weight from obese patients who, while undergoing surgical procedures, might otherwise have trouble breathing.

The respiratory assist device built by Team R-Aides uses suction cups attached to a horizontal beam and tied in to a vacuum pump to gently lift the abdomens of patients who are on their backs and under light sedation. Though the suspension device would not be suitable for patients under heavy sedation or who are undergoing abdominal surgery, it could be invaluable to surgeons performing operations that involved the upper or lower body.

The students Gabriel Ochoa, Marisa Prevost, Norman Truong, Daeun Yoon and Justin Yun accepted the challenge last fall as their senior design capstone project, required of most graduates of Rice's George R. Brown School of Engineering.

Mehdi Razavi, director of electrophysiology clinical research at the Texas Heart Institute (THI), brought his idea to Rice last year. He had had success in the past working with students at the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK). "One of the highlights of working in the medical center is working with Rice and Maria (Oden) on senior design projects," said Razavi, co-adviser on the project with Oden, OEDK director and a professor in the practice of engineering education.

He found his inspiration on the job.

"Almost all of these ideas come during a procedure, when you have the 'What if?' moment," Razavi said. "I was in the midst of a surgical procedure on a very obese patient when he started snoring, which implies the airway may be a little bit occluded. We could see that his oxygen levels were going down, and he was trying to push against his abdominal contents to breathe.<
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Contact: David Ruth
david@rice.edu
713-348-6327
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert  

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