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PMDI at the Mechatronics Lab

PMDI

Advisor:Dr. Wicks, Dr. Muelenaer

Undergraduate Students: Ashley Taylor

Sponsors:Scieneering at VT (Howard Hughes Medical Institute), The Pediatric Medical Device Institute

Purpose: The goal of this project is to develop a clinical tool that can differentiate between a normal infant and an infant with atypical neurological responses.

Description: Approximately 17 million people worldwide suffer from Cerebral Palsy. While there is no cure for this disease, ameliorative therapies are most helpful when identification is made early. Current diagnostic techniques are expensive, subjective, and often inaccurate until the child reaches 4-5 years of age. By using micro-electromechanical accelerometers, the movements of infants can be quantified. Analyzing these quantified movements can accurately predict Cerebral Palsy. Small accelerometers were placed on the limbs of infants, in order to assess the specific frequencies and phase displacement of an infant's general movements. Signal processing with high-speed data acquisition allows observation of high-frequency motions, possibly undetected by the human eye. Using this data, models can be developed that differentiate between a normal infant and an infant with atypical neurological responses. This research is focused on the development of sensors for use in a clinical setting to diagnose Cerebral Palsy in infants. The testing apparatus has been approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for a clinical study on ten infants during spring of 2013. While this sensor development is not a cure for Cerebral Palsy, it is a step towards early diagnosis, which could ultimately lead to better lives for persons with Cerebral Palsy.


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