Electronic Design

Collegiate Invention Assists In The Delivery Room

Delivering a baby is one of the most delicate procedures a doctor can perform, requiring the doctor to use a precise amount of force to bring the baby into the world. Measuring that force has been difficult, until now. A team of undergraduates from the Johns Hopkins University Biomedical Engineering Program has developed an unobtrusive device that measures that amount of force, ensuring safer deliveries.

The electromyographic instrument measures electrical impulses in the forearm's muscles. Three electrodes are attached to the doctor's forearm and connected to a small metal box placed in the doctor's pocket. The box collects information from the electrodes and transmits it to a receiver up to 50 feet away. The receiver is connected to a laptop computer, which stores and processes the data.

While physicians generally apply as little force as possible during delivery, complicated births demand more advanced techniques. The device could then be used to determine the best delivery technique that would still apply the least amount of force. Also, obstetricians in training could use the device to assess the amount of force used in routine deliveries, developing their own skills. The device's inventors expect applications in orthopedics and sports medicine as well.

The team, which included William Tam, Yen Shi (Gillian) Hoe, I-Jean Khoo, Stanley Huang, and their instructor Robert Allen, was named a finalist in the National Collegiate Inventors Competition, sponsored by the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio. It has also obtained a provisional patent on the device. For more information, go to www.jhuu.edu.

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