P10007: Mechanical Spine Platform
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Dr. Gombatto & Dr. Mowder-Tinney-April 21 2009

Interview with Dr. Sara Gombatto and Dr. JJ Mowder-Tinney


Project Selection/Identification Meeting
Interviewers: Jeff Rebmann, Rochelle Perry, and Yi Xie
Interviewees: Dr. Sara Gombatto and Dr. JJ Mowder-Tinney
Date: 21 April 2009, Nazareth Physical Therapy Clinic

Initial roadmap idea from RIT was explained (Assistive Devices Roadmap). Also, the background of the DPM course and MSD courses were explained. Mainly for clarification purposes.
Interviewer(s): Do you see any type of enabling technologies (recurring needs)from your research or past projects?
Dr. Gombatto: Both projects that have been picked up this year are continuation projects. Both however would benefit from seeing some sort of motion tracking system integrated with them.
Dr. Mowder-Tinney: Another thing that we see come up a lot is movement pieces that need to be expanded from the pediatric level to the adult level. These types of thing facilitate movement and expansion to adult size, weight, speed, etc. would be good to look at. An example of this is we assist patients while they are walking on a treadmill. There has to be a movement facilitation that will help the patient of any size.
As of right now, we are sunning "Kid's Club" which are student planned activities for young children with disabilities. One project that we would like to begin is a sort of Hippotherapy which is therapy relating to the movement of horseback riding. The movement of a horse helps develop movement of the pelvis which is similar to walking. Discussion of whether kids like the animal or the movement involved continues to happen. We would like to start with something for pediatrics because it could be fun for the kids. It would include something like a basic bolster (saddle) to mimic riding a horse. The machine under the saddle would have to mimic a walking pace. The kids using this would be in the range of 5-10 years old, however they tend to be smaller than the average child that age. I would prefer to not have a back support so that the students could assist in the rehabilitation.
Another project that we would be interested in is the completion of the obstacle course. I do not think there is enough left for the scope of a senior design project, but it's just something to keep in mind.
Dr. Gombatto: Most of my therapy is in people with low back pain from repetitive motion. We have tried to look at each patient through clinical exams, but that does not necessarily capture the entire picture. We would like to be able to monitor a patient's movement and frequency throughout the day. There is currently something on the market that can be worn during the day to capture data, but it is difficult to wear and is expensive. We would like a data logger that could show all movements. This would have to be small and lightweight. It would be nice to monitor lower and upper lumbar, the pelvis, etc. The biggest thing would be able to differentiate between front, side, back bending.
Related to the motion tracking project is the machine we currently use which is a movement recorder using lights and reflective markers. We need to have a mechanical spine that mimics the movement of a real person. We would like to be able test the validity of motion tracking systems. This spine would have to move in multiple planes in each individual section (lower lumbar, upper lumber, and thorax) using some sort of measuring device. In the past we have used electrogoniometers. It could be set to a certain angle and locked, or it could be moved through a distinct range and measured in the software. The device itself would have to capture the measurements to compare against the software. The multi-segmental spine is very applicable to other joints in the future, so that could be an enabling technology. It would have to mimic all different size people from the 5th percentile female to the 95th percentile male. That type of data you would need to collect. This could be combined with the upper extremity exerciser to mimic a shoulder joint if it turns out to be successful.
Interviewer(s): What are some other issues you have had with past MSD teams?
Dr. Mowder-Tinney:The balance training bicycle had a lot of potential but it did not complete everything I needed. I don't want to say they did not say they did not do a good job, because they did. I just think it will need a second iteration. Right now the cable snapped and it is not being used because of that.
The parallel bars were successful, but required work to be done on them over the summer before being implemented. I really would like to thank that student who came and helped with that process. But as for now they are done to my satisfaction.
Basically, some projects are not large enough to be continued in a second iteration. However, there is still some work that needs to be done. A lot of that work falls under maintenance. It might be a good candidate for the earlier year projects in your roadmap. Another issue that has come up in the past is that we never see the projects until the last minute. Patients never have time to trial the products. This could be due to the time constraints of the senior design course, but we would like to be involved earlier in the process.
The balance bike second iteration could definitely be a MSD project though. We have recently began to expand our patients scope as well. We have been working with veterans, which could lead to more ideas, but it not developed enough yet. The upper extremity exerciser hasn't been fully examined yet, therefore it could possibly needs some more work.
Dr. Gombatto: Maintenance has been an issue. We have projects hanging around, but no one to come fix them. These projects are used everyday, so they will definitely need to be maintained.
Dr. Mowder-Tinney: I'm limited to thinking of bigger projects because I do not want this complicated project collecting dust. If there could be a way that the products would be maintained in the future, it would open me up to think bigger.
Interviewer(s): So out of the projects we spoke about today, which ones would you recommend to us?
Dr. Gombatto: Well I needed the mechanical spine yesterday! That one is definitely priority, and then the motion tracking pack.
Dr. Mowder-Tinney: I think I would still like to see the horse project, then the bike.
Interviewer(s):What is the best way to keep in contact with both of you in the future?
Dr. Mowder-Tinney: Email would be the best.
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