Texas MRC Research Projects

 

Annually in the US more than 1/3 of adults, ages 65 and older, experience falls. Many of these fallers start using a cane or rolling walker (RW) following a fall. In senior living communities, a RW is the most commonly used ambulatory device. Among the older RW users, pain at the wrists and upper and lower back often occurs. Unfortunately, the rate of falling is still high (nearly 40%) amongst these RW users. The side effects (particularly the risk of falls) of using a RW are greatly associated with incorrect RW height (causing a different grip strength distribution while holding the RW), inappropriate user posture (causing different pressure/strains on the walker/ground), changes in gait patterns (causing a decreased gait speed) and poor maintenance of the RW tips (wheels) (causing different shear force on the ground). However, currently there are no instruments or devices available to enable a clinician to monitor how a RW user uses their RW for daily mobility. Therefore, in this study, a SmartWalker will be designed and instrumented in our engineering laboratory in order to identify the improper RW use before it causes a fall or other fall‐related medical problems. Different sensors will be installed on the SmartWalker. These sensors will monitor how the user holds the handgrips of a walker, how the user’s posture affects ground‐reaction forces during standing or walking, how fast the user moves the walker during ambulation and if and how pressure is distributed on the four tips (wheels) of the walker. Data from the sensors will be acquired by a Data Acquisition Device (DAD) and wirelessly transmitted to a PC for data storage and to monitor the user’s status while using the walker. Further, this study will evaluate the use of the SmartWalker longitudinally at two local senior living communities using common clinical assessment tools such as reliability and validity tests, feasibility analyses and correlation studies. The SmartWalker is expected to be an assistive ambulatory device as well as a dynamic, real‐time, data‐traceable monitor of the older walker user’s grip strength, posture, gait speed and overall maintenance for the prevention of walker‐user related falls and side effects.


Howe Liu, Ph.D. UNTHSC
Associate Professor – Physical Therapy
howe.liu@unthsc.edu//501.735.2457//Biography
Co-PIs:
Haiying Huang, Ph.D. UTA
Arvind Nana, M.D. THR

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The purpose of this project is to develop and market a glass-based Neuro-Sensor as a high throughput drug discovery tool. This transparent device directs the growth of nerve cell projections (i.e., axons or dendrites) through mesa-scale microfluidic channels. Electrical impedance sensors through microelectrodes will be incorporated into the device to monitor and quantify the biological response of axon growth when neurons are exposed to a variety of chemicals.  The Neuro-Sensor here proposed has many dramatic advantages over traditional assays such as simple operation, rapid detection, long-term stability of chemically inert substrates, low cost, and high sensitivity. The product will not only be applicable to nerve regeneration research, but also to many micro-level cellular experimental applications including cell migration, wound healing and blood flow.

Principal Investigator:

Richard Billo, Ph.D., UTA
Professor-College of Engineering, Associate Dean of Engineering for Research-College of Engineering
richard.billo@uta.edu // (817) 272-2708 // Biography (more…)

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Approximately one in four epilepsy patients suffer with seizures that cannot be controlled through medication or surgery. In addition to the direct effects of these seizures, their seeming unpredictability causes further loss in quality of life and increased health risk for these patients. The transition from inter-ictal to ictal state is not an abrupt transition. Rather, the pre-ictal state (a timeframe just prior to seizure onset) can last minutes to hours. Further, a number of physiological changes may be observed during this period, although the types and intensities of those changes vary from patient to patient and from one type of seizure to another.

Our proposal is to monitor multiple extra-cranial physiological changes that are known to occur during the pre-ictal period of some seizures. Our twin goals will be to:

(a) Find a set of metrics per patient that provide a clear indication that a seizure is imminent in time to warn the patient/caregiver, and

(b) Use metrics that can be monitored in a non-stigmatizing way.

Achieving these goals will require the use of machine learning (classification) to build a personalized pre-ictal footprint for each patient, and selection of metrics that can be monitored in a non-stigmatizing way. We plan to use sensors mounted on a wristband to achieve this second goal.

Principal Investigator:

Mehrdad Nourani, Ph.D UTD
Associate Professor-Electrical Engineering
Mehrdad.Nourani@utdallas.edu // (972) 883-4391 // Biography (more…)

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Existing blood pressure measurement techniques requiring catheterization are not suitable for wearable applications and continuous monitoring. Cuff-based solutions, on the other hand, are uncomfortable and are only suitable for occasional monitoring. Monitoring blood pressure for individuals with hypertension, the elderly in home-care/assisted-living units, or people who are recovering at home following medical treatment requires a simple, inexpensive, non-invasive and comfortable device. The aim of this project is to develop a non-invasive wearable blood pressure monitoring device using pulse transit time (PTT).

Principal Investigator:

Roozbeh Jafari, Ph.D UTD
Electrical Engineering Department
rjafari@utdallas.edu // 972-883-6509 // Biography (more…)

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We propose to build and test an imaging instrument prototype that uses near‐infrared light to map changes in blood oxygenation on the surface of the brain after traumatic brain injury (TBI) has occurred. This instrument will address the immediate clinical need for a non‐invasive technology capable of alerting the attending clinical staff when a rising intracranial fluid pressure event has occurred after TBI. These events can occur rapidly and unexpectedly at anytime up to a few days post‐trauma. The rising pressure events result in the collapse of blood vessels supplying oxygen to the brain, which often leads to permanent brain damage or death. The current standard of care is a very invasive procedure that involves placing a pressure transducer through a catheter inside the brain, which is very traumatic and has been shown to result in increased morbidity. (more…)

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One in three older adults fall each year causing serious, life threatening injuries, increasing caregiver burden, and health care costs. The majority of research focused on understanding what causes falls in older adults considers the impact of age-related visual, motor and cognitive impairments. Recent studies have shown that individuals with hearing loss may be at greater risk of falls than individuals without hearing loss. Importantly, hearing loss affects more than half of adults over the age of 65 and startlingly, of those who could benefit from a hearing aid (thus potentially reducing falls), 2/3 decline or fail to seek treatment. Overall, despite the acknowledged association between hearing loss and falls, very few systematic studies have adequately defined this relationship. (more…)

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Falls are listed as the third most common cause of unintentional injury and death in all age groups and the leading cause of death in adults over the age of 65 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Injury Center, 2007). Hospital settings can be dangerous, due to factors such as the unfamiliar environment, change in medical conditions and medication side effects. Currently, inpatient falls occur at a rate of 2.3-7 falls per 1,000 patient days, with an estimated cost per fall equaling at least $6,437.

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The proposed embedded system collects information from pressure sensors and body sensors, analyzes the data to create a pressure distribution map, and actuates periodically to redistribute pressure due to body weight. The concept of distributed control and multi-agent coordination will be used to regulate and distribute pressure regardless of the size, weight, and position of patients.

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Through the support of the TexasMRC Grant, the research team has made progress towards investigating a new method for Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) monitoring that uses CO2 sensors placed in a crib around an infant to non-invasively monitor the variation in exhaled air concentration from him/her.  The goal is to detect any abnormal or irregular patterns in the infant’s breathing by monitoring the outputs of the CO2 sensors.  The output data can be used to activate an alarm or logged for diagnosis. (more…)
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We designed and implemented a proof-of-concept prototype by which cerebrospinal ventricular shunt monitoring for blockage becomes a reality. Our platform does not interfere with the normal operation of the shunt and can be easily adopted by almost any of the shunts in the market. Our proposed system uses flexible MEMS flow sensors with embedded computation and a short-range wireless transceiver.

 

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