Navigation Links
Rice University student engineers automate limb lengthening for kids
Date:4/23/2012

Another day, another four turns of the screw. That's just a part of life for people, primarily children, undergoing the long and difficult process of distraction osteogenesis, a method to correct bone deformities that leave one limb shorter than the other.

A team of Rice University undergraduates has invented a device they hope will make the process safer and easier.

In collaboration with Shriners Hospital for Children in Houston, the students came up with "LinDi," a self-adjusting, automated linear distractor. It eliminates manual manipulation of the screw with a motorized process that makes the gradual growth of new bone a more natural process. And for the first time in such a device, they have built in a force-feedback loop that protects fragile tissues and nerves from being overstressed.

To correct deformities suffered by as many as 10 million children due to trauma, infection or congenital causes, surgeons break a bone and apply a distractor that stretches the bone as it heals and gently nudges the arm or leg to a more appropriate length.

The distractor incorporates long pins sunk right into the bone on either side of the surgical break. As the bone heals, but before it sets, the patient uses an Allen wrench to give the drive screw a quarter turn four times a day and push the pins further apart a tiny bit at a time.

That's inconvenient, even risky if a child or parent forgets to make the adjustment, said Rice mechanical engineering student Raquel Kahn. And wearing the bulky brace is no treat, either.

Team members Kahn, Alvin Chou, Mario Gonzalez, Stephanie Herkes and Elaine Wong took LinDi on as their senior design capstone project at the behest of Gloria Gogola, an orthopedic hand and upper-extremity surgeon at Shriners who specializes in pediatrics.

"The process of limb lengthening -- essentially creating a localized mini-growth spurt -- works well for bones, but is very hard on the soft tissues such as nerves and blood vessels," Gogola said. "This team has done an outstanding job of designing a creative solution. Their device not only protects the soft tissues, it will ultimately speed up the entire process."

"The problem with the current device is that there's a lot of room for error," Kahn said. "You can imagine that one might forget to turn it once, or turn it the wrong way, or turn it too much. And a lot of problems can arise in the soft tissue and the nerves surrounding the bone. That's the limiting factor of this process. But LinDi implements a motor to make the distraction process nearly continuous."

Kahn said the motorized, battery-operated LinDi adjusts the device almost 1,000 times every day, "so the process is more gradual and continuous, similar to actual bone growth."

Working at Rice's Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK), the students had access to all the materials and expertise they needed to conceptualize, build and test a prototype even while completing their coursework. "We're teaching students the importance of prototyping as early as possible," said Marcia O'Malley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and the team's faculty adviser. "Even if it's cardboard and tape, they're able to visualize a project early in the process.

"One of the big features of this project is the force sensor," she said. "If the loads on the tissue are too high, the device shuts the motor off." O'Malley said early tests with strain gauges paid off in the team's level of confidence when the time came to build a working prototype. "The great thing about the OEDK is that everything is so accessible here. I could say, 'Well, that team over there is working with strain gauges. Go talk to them and find out how they're doing it," she said.

Current patients wear distractors for as long as it takes to complete the process, typically stretching a limb for two to four months, Kahn said. Then they leave the device on for six more weeks, like a cast, while the bone sets. Each of the Rice students wore a standard distractor (minus the bone-drilling part) for 24 hours to get a feel for what patients endure. "The hardest part was we kept banging into things," Gonzalez said.

But through interviews with Gogola's patients, they learned how tough children are. "We were really concerned, because it looks like a pretty scary, uncomfortable process," Herkes said. "It looks like a torture device. We asked one little boy who had it on his humerus his No. 1 complaint and he said, 'My school uniform is red, and it doesn't match.'"

Through Shriners, the team got the opportunity to perform short-term animal testing that "helped us work out some of the kinks we weren't aware of in the device," Herkes said.

"We've gotten some nice results," Kahn added. "Our device is doing what we want it to do."

Though the students are about to graduate, they expect another team to continue development of the LinDi. One goal will be to make the device less bulky, and therefore curtail wear and tear on both the distractor and the patient.


'/>"/>

Contact: David Ruth
david@rice.edu
713-348-6327
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. University of Virginia Health System Medical Laboratories Selects Sunquest's Specimen Collection Solution
2. Akron Institute of Herzing University Launches Its First Bachelors Degree Programs to Prepare Students for Even Greater Success in Business, Health Care and IT
3. Most pandemic plans in Ontario hospitals have not been tested: Queens University study
4. San Diego State University and BIOCOM Institute Receive $4.95 Million Grant: The BRIDGE Project, Linking Education to Employment in San Diegos Life Sciences Industry
5. Smithsonian Institution, Arizona State University announce education and research partnership
6. Untreated poor vision in elderly linked to dementia, University of Michigan study shows
7. Giarmarco, Mullins & Horton, P.C. President Joseph F. Page to Speak at University of Michigan
8. Arizona State Universitys Decision Theater offers balance to an off-kilter world
9. Forest City Announces Joint Venture with Health Care REIT for University Park Life Science Properties
10. Herzing University Online Launches Master and Bachelor of Science Degrees in Nursing
11. Nurtur Acquires ActivHealth and Wellness by Choice; Gains Exclusive Partnership with Duke University Center for Living
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/16/2020)... ... , ... For patients who have gone to see Andy Gaertner, D.M.D , in the ... in place. After being allowed to re-open during the current pandemic, they have put some ... safe and comfortable as possible while going through their dental exams and treatments. , The ...
(Date:5/16/2020)... ... May 15, 2020 , ... ... collaboration with the Open Source Medical Supplies (OSMS). The organization will obtain free ... to reduce the spread of COVID-19. , Created as a response to the ...
(Date:5/15/2020)... ... ... COVID-19 has made people feel fearful, but Rieke Office Interiors (ROI) is helping ... to work safely. Their unique line of SafeSpace™ PPE equipment for the office has ... , Everyone needs to be able to get back to work and to know ...
(Date:5/15/2020)... ... May 15, 2020 , ... Cisive, a global ... company and its healthcare-focused background screening division, PreCheck, were both named by HR ... 2020. A distinguished panel comprising of CEOs, CIOs, CHROs, and analysts, along with ...
(Date:5/15/2020)... ... May 15, 2020 , ... As businesses prepare to reopen, preventative measures must ... need to combat the spread of the virus in a way that is not ... help with their TempCheck Sentinel and TempCheckplus Sentry no-contact infrared temperature sensing systems. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/21/2020)... ... May 21, 2020 , ... MedVet, a leader in ... veterinary hospital located at 601 Showers Dr., Mountain View, CA in June 2020. MedVet ... access for pet care in the Silicon Valley and broader Santa Clara County areas. ...
(Date:5/21/2020)... , ... May 21, 2020 ... ... , Guests: Kevin Kearns, Boston, Massachusetts, founder/CEO of Burn with Kearns ( ... world’s largest association for fitness and wellness professional & competitive alpine skier ...
(Date:5/21/2020)... ... ... Labyrinthe Labs has announced the launch of its brand new and ground-breaking ... for fast-action relief of joint and muscle soreness, Lefa is botanically powered by a ... and muscles. , According to the National Institutes of Health , approximately ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: