A Clarkson University Integrated Design Team was awarded first place in the Seventh Annual Undergraduate Design Project Competition in Rehabilitation and Assistive Devices for their project “Coughing for Better Health: A Prosthesis to Aid in Sputum Expectoration in Laryngectomees.”
The competition, hosted by the Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering, and Biotransport Conference (SB3C), was held June 21-24 in Tucson, Ariz.
The Clarkson team presented a solution for a cough-assist device that allows laryngectomees to mimic the mechanics of a regular cough and thereby clear mucus from their respiratory tract -- an important capability, as laryngectomized individuals are unable to produce a normal cough due to the removal of the vocal folds.
Also, excess accumulation of mucus occurs in this population group as a physiological response to breathing dry air directly through a stoma, or hole, in their neck. Difficulty clearing mucus from the respiratory tract leads to high mortality rates.
The students communicated with the Utica, N.Y., Laryngectomy Support Group, directed by speech-language pathologists Gordon Reitema and Julie Talerico, to determine end-user design recommendations.
The final prototype successfully demonstrated how a laryngectomized individual using the device could produce the same pressures and flow rates that occur during normal coughing, thereby providing an effective tool for clearing the respiratory tract in laryngectomees.
The design team was comprised of undergraduate mechanical engineering majors Matthew Haltermann '17 of Hartford, N.Y.; Alden Mitchell '17 of Hopkinton, N.H.; Kota Tamura '17 of Ibaraki-Ken, Koga, Japan; and Kara Van Herwarde '17 of Killington, Vt.; and engineering and management major Nicole D’Ambrosio '17 of Highland Mills, N.Y.. The project was directed by Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering Byron Erath.
Six design team finalists were selected from 30 initial submissions based on a technical paper describing their proposed device and its impact on individual and public health. The paper addressed product need and market potential, development and testing of a prototype device, and an economic plan for its commercialization based on market analysis. The final stage of the competition that was held at the SB3C for the six finalists comprised an oral presentation and prototype demonstration by each design team.
As part of its selection as a finalist, the team received a $3,000 award from the SB3C to offset the cost of traveling to the conference. The award was made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation (Grant No. NSF-CBET 1540647).
The integrated design project was also supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation under Grant No. NSF-CBET 1510367, awarded to Clarkson University with Principal Investigator Associate Professor of Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering Laurel Kuxhaus and Co-Principal Investigators Erath and Associate Professor of Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering Kevin Fite.
More information about the competition can be found at: