P10007: Mechanical Spine Platform

Dr. Phillips-March 31 2009

Interview with Dr. Dan Phillips

First Sponsor Interview
Interviewers: Jeff Rebmann and Rochelle Perry
Interviewee: Dr. Dan Phillips
Date: 31 March 2009, Dr. Phillips' Office 09-3177

Interviewer(s): First we would like to introduce ourselves - Jeff Rebmann, Rochelle Perry. We are sorry Yi Xie could not make it today.
Would you please introduce yourself as well?
Dr. Phillips: My name is Dan Phillips and I am a professor for the Electrical Engineering department.
Interviewer(s): Are there any projects that you have worked with you see potential for needing more work or new ideas in the future?
Dr. Phillips: I believe there could be a great deal of work that could be pursued with regards to the integration of the motion tracking project and the upper extremity exerciser. The Upper Extremity Exerciser was originally designed by JJ Mowder-Tinney at the physical therapy clinic at Nazareth College. The first iteration was fairly simple using items such as a rubber band and some PVC piping. From that stage, an RIT MSD team picked up the project and began to improve upon the design. The exerciser needed to have a flexible rob that held up the hand/arm to defeat the pull from gravity. This would allow the stroke patient to perform their exercises with the help of this device. The first MSD iteration was not much improvement from the original design. However the second MSD iteration offered a more mechanical solution.
Because the Upper Extremity Exerciser is completed and robust enough for use, integration of a motion tracking system would be a logical step. This technology could provide feedback to the patient and clinician about the progress of the patient. That type of project would most likely need team members consisting of mechanical, electrical, and industrial engineers. The previous motion tracking project employed the use of Blue Tooth wireless technology to transmit the signals back to a computer. I believe I still have the laptop that was used and I could find the hardware.
Interviewer(s): What other projects would you like to see pursued?
Dr. Phillips: The motion capture project still needs more work before it can be completed for good. The system works, however there are still issues concerning robustness. The system needs to work easily for the clinicians who do not necessarily have a technical background. Keep in mind the customer of that project is the clinic and it needs to be as easy to use as possible. There are a few issues to solve:
- Accelerometers need to subtract gravity
- Need to specify between a plane and 3D space
- Solid state versions of this have made headway since this project was completed
- Revisit instrumentation and signal processing
- Java script used to program which couldn't relay information well or fast enough
For this work there must be all different majors involved. There needs to be a computer engineer for programming the microprocessors, a mechanical engineer for measuring the gait analysis, an electrical engineer for the electric components, an industrial engineer for ergonomics, and a software engineer for finishing up and retooling the programming side. An industrial design student could also be helpful in making sure the design of the systems is accurate and provide different ideas that an engineer may not provide.
Interviewer(s): Would you be interested in being a guide for one of these projects, or at least a consultant?
Dr. Phillips: Guides are chosen based on a workload model. Therefore my workload would be examined and I could decide then. I do know, however, for the motion tracking project you would need a technical consultant with knowledge in embedded systems development, and ability to handle software interfaces, knows data acquisition instrumentation, and has a good relationship with Nazareth PT Clinic.
Interviewer(s): Are there any other projects?
Dr. Phillips: The Bike Balance Trainer project (P08001) still has some work that could be pursued. The feedback right now is purely mechanical. Some instrumentation that would allow for electronic feedback would help the clinician. This would also be an integration project like the upper extremity exerciser.
Another project is an Obstacle Course project (P08003). This project is a training device that is used for the PT clinic that allows for patients to navigate through an obstacle course as part of their rehabilitation. The mechanical part is already completed, but the electrical component is still a "work in progress." The electrical component keeps track of what obstacles were presented to the patient and gives the physical therapist and the patient feedback on both present obstacles and performance. At the end of the course, the system is supposed to print a ticket providing necessary information. This would most likely need some more work, whether it be with and MSD team or something else.
The motion tracking system could have many different applications with various MSD projects. The cost of including it in a lot of projects would most likely be high, but it would be a next step for many projects.
Interviewer(s): Are there any existing projects that are similar to yours that you can recommend?
Dr. Phillips: Dr. Brown's research is in prosthetic devices. There was a MSD project done in this area that had very high costs associated. FIND PROJECT NUMBER This project and Dr. Brown himself would be great consults for these projects. It used potentiometers to monitor movements and EMG. The project was successful however it was much more costly than the average MSD project. The project could serve as a model to integrate motion tracking into other projects.
Guiding and consulting can make or break a project. It is important to have a leader who is willing to work alongside and provide their knowledge when needed. They must be willing to build and maintain a strong relationship with the customer because the team will only benefit from that.