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2014

List of projects undertaken in the year 2014. This includes volunteer, capstone, and class projects.

Filtering by Tag: Volunteer

Communication System Mounting

Enabling Engineering

The Need

Larry Christy is a 42 year-old man originally from Quincy and now living in New Bedford. He was in a car accident and experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI). He moves around by controlling a wheelchair using head movements. He lost most of his ability to move his legs and arms, and can no longer speak clearly. When he does speak, it is very slow and requires a lot of energy from him. He typically communicates by having support staff members interpret messages that he types by pointing at letters on a printed keyboard. This approach is also slow and does not give Larry privacy in his communication.

The Project

Our goal was to build Larry a communication system that lets him communicate more effectively without the help of a support staff member. We built an adjustable keyboard and monitor tray that attaches to his wheelchair. The tray can be raised or lowered, and the mounting arm swings out of the way to let him in and out of the wheelchair. Larry types on a special computer keyboard with large keys that connects to a personal computer. The keyboard is attached to the tray by velcro.

Current status

This project is complete! Larry is using the communication system regularly to talk to his family, friends and support staff members. He loves using it and finds it to be very convenient.

Next steps

Larry would be interested in having the output from the keyboard be directly connected to other programs, like an email client or Skype, to make communicating even easier. He wonders if it would be even better if the monitor could be mounted on a wall so he wouldn’t have to move around with it attached to his wheelchair.

Touchscreen Guard

Enabling Engineering

The Need

Children with developmental delays take therapeutic classes that use iPads. However children often have trouble pressing buttons on the screen of tablets, and sometimes press the wrong button. Teachers would like tablet covers that make it easier for children to only select the items on the screen being used for a lesson. The covers should be easy for teachers to place and remove, hard for children to remove, and should be cheap enough to be customizable for each application.

The Project

Our goal is to develop a design for iPad covers to make it easier for children for developmental delays to learn using tablets. The covers should be transparent, minimize screen gap, connect securely to the iPad, and should not impede access to the buttons or charging port.

Current Status

This project is in progress.

Reducing Medical Errors

Enabling Engineering

The Need

Nurses and other caregivers deliver large numbers of medications to patients. For each event, the correct medicine must be given to the correct patient, at the correct time, in the correct dosage. The number of medication delivery events and patients that a caregiver must manage makes it harder to ensure that errors to not take place.

The Project

Create a system to better organize and structure the existing system for passing medications. The solution must prevent nurses from finding ways to avoid using it, and not create an overly trusting attitude of nurses instead of double-checking and using common sense. It also must comply with laws and regulations about medicine transfers and record-keeping.

Current Status

This project is in progress. Group members have had several conversations with caregivers to gather information about the nature of the problem. Group members have also visited a caregiving site to observe how medications are delivered and develop more specific ideas.

Hospital Sleep Tracker

Enabling Engineering

The Need

Caregivers and nurses often have to watch over several patients at once. There are certain times that a patient may have to take medication or need to be moved in order to prevent bed sores. If they are asleep, however, nurses will have to wake them. Patients may become grumpy, groggy or difficult to wake if they are in a deep sleep. If we can track which sleep cycle a patient currently is in, caretakers can take advantage of a light sleep cycle to wake patients. Patients may also leave the bed unbeknownst to caretakers so the device could double as a bed alarm as well.

The Project

Our goal was to design a device that can track a patient’s sleep cycle based on movement. Using an accelerometer feeding into a microcontroller, an algorithm analyzes the accelerometer data from a patient’s movement on the bed to translate it into what sleep cycle he/she currently is in. We plan to be able to plug in the data into a computer alongside all other data in a patient monitoring system. This way a nurse can monitor multiple patients from a central location.

Current Status

This project is currently in progress and is rapidly making progress. We hope to have a working prototype by the end of the year with reliable data.

Hair Washer

Enabling Engineering

The Need

Individuals with physical deformities suffer from the inability to complete simple daily tasks that many take for granted. Washing your hair and eating are two of the many daily tasks that require hands that most people don’t even think twice about. People born without hands or arms have an especially difficult time because so many tasks require the use of your hands. In some instances, getting help can be frustrating or even embarrassing for people. Having someone come to the bathroom and help with showering or brushing teeth is a struggle that can be eliminated.

The Project

This project aims to solve one of the many struggles in the life of someone without arms. This hair washing system will enable any individual who is unable to wash their hair without help to easily complete this simple task. This system will incorporate a shampoo dispenser, scrubbing tools, and combing tools. Currently, various methods of scrubbing are being investigated to find a good balance between functionality and cost for the overall system. The next steps will be to create up to three different prototypes to experiment with to identify a final design to move forward with.

Current Status

This project is in progress.

Communication Button

Enabling Engineering

The Need

A four-year-old child at the For His Children Orphanage in Ecuador with autism who is nonverbal and partially blind needs an effective way to communicate with his instructors. The goal was to develop a system to allow the child to express basic needs.

The Project

Designed a communication button modeled after the Staples Easy button. The device—allows him to effectively communicate with his caretakers. Instructors can record a word or phrase, and the child can get the device to replay it by pushing the button. The device can be used to say, for example, “Outside” or “I have to use the bathroom. This was an interdisciplinary collaboration between students in Engineering and students in Physical Therapy.

Current status

The project is complete! The communication button was delivered to the orphanage in Ecuador by Prof. Hayward and her Physical Therapy students.