All of the students on Team CivSAFE have spent time wearing both the original collar and their prototype, and found the new device to be much more comfortable. "We hope that will reduce the chance patients will have pressure sores," said team member Elias Hoban.
The team, which has filed a provisional patent through Rice, is testing student volunteers to develop statistics on just how immobilized a variety of patients wearing the HeadCase will be. Horter and Prabhu have volunteers bite down on a popsicle stick attached to an accelerometer, like those now commonly found in smartphones, to measure the range of motion they're able to achieve both with the standard collar and the HeadCase in place.
"One of the critical questions we've asked is, When a patient is turned on his side, will his head flop to the ground?" Hoban said. "We've found ours just does a better job" compared with standard collars, he said.
Michael Zylberman, a mechanical engineering member of the team and an EMT with Rice's Emergency Medical Services, has extensive experience with the use of standard collars over the past three years. "In the simplest terms, we think ours works better," he said.
The team will take its HeadCase prototype to IShow, a student engineering design competition to be held in Montreal in June. The high-profile competition is sponsored by ASME, formerly the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Ten student teams, including CivSAFE, have been named finalists in the competition, two of them from Rice.
CivSAFE's device will be on display during Rice's UnConvention, April 12-14, during which the public is invited to take part in a wide range of activities, including the 2012 Engineering Design Showcase at Tudor Fieldhouse April 12.
|Contact: David Ruth|