About four months ago, a interdisciplinary team of 10 graduate and undergraduate students and one U-M alum committed to spending their spring break together in Gualtemala…not in search a good time for themselves but to do some good for others.
The students are from Computer Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering, and they are collaborating on an M-HEAL project for a unique remote stethoscope that can help in diagnosing a heart defect that affects approximately 1,600 infants born in Guatemala each year. The defect can cause permanent brain, lung, and heart damage or death if not treated surgically within weeks of birth.
Proper diagnosis in remote areas is a serious problem, which the team's unique stethoscope is designed to address. It records the infant heartbeat, save it as an audio file, and transmit the file over the high-bandwidth cellular phone network to physicians in Guatemala City. These physicians will then assess the heart sounds and send notification of whether or not the child requires surgery. If corrective surgery is required, the Aldo Castañeda Foundation will offer the procedure free of charge.
"Hopefully by providing an easy to use screening tool, accessible to those in rural areas, we will help get those who need the surgery into the hands of those who can provide it," said M-HEAL team member Nathaniel Skinner. "What we are bringing to Guatemala this break is far from the solution, and much of what we will be doing is needs assessment, and learning how a future solution can interface successfully with the users. However, as this will undoubtedly be a multi-year project, we are confident in the advances the next iterations will bring."
The CSE students involved in the project are Ryan Roberts and Prashanth Sadasivan.
The team from M-HEAL is collaborating with the Appropriate Technologies Collaborative (ATC), an Ann Arbor-based non-profit design firm that specializes in designing for low-income individuals, particularly those in Guatemala. They will create the enhanced stethoscope device developed in conjunction with the Dr. Aldo Castañeda Foundation to help triage infants across the country.
Posted: February 28, 2011