BME team selected as a finalist for the 2020 BMES Medtronic student design competition

A team of UF biomedical engineering students will be competing for the 2020 BMES Student Design competition. The group includes Zachary Boogaart, Christian Garcia, Stephen Michel, Sana Nimer, and Brandon Reid, as one of ten finalists for the virtual event. Sponsored by Medtronic, the competition’s topic is Medical Devices. Dr. Nikolaus Gravenstein and Dr. Yury Zasimovich are the project mentors.

The design aims to improve upon existing technologies for nerve block procedures. Nerve blocks are common anesthesiologic procedures in which a physician guides a hollow needle, connected to a current generator and an anesthetic-filled syringe, through a patient’s peripheral muscles to get as close as possible to a targeted nerve. The physician determines proximity to the targeted nerve via muscle twitches prompted by the current generator; as one approaches a nerve, the amperage must be adjusted gradually to identify the target nerve’s exact location to achieve a precise and isolated block of nerve activity. The procedure requires the physician-operator to use both hands to guide the needle with great dexterity and to palpate muscle to ensure the appropriate nerve is being targeted. With both of the operator’s hands in use, they are unable to touch the current control system. Therefore, an assistant is needed to modulate the current delivered through the needle based on commands from the physician-operator.

The team’s clinically motivated design was made in collaboration with healthcare providers in the UF College of Medicine. Rather than dictate commands to an assistant, the physician-operator can dictate commands to their smartphone, which connects to the current generator using Bluetooth technology. The assistant can then attend to the sedation of the patient, make entries into the electronic medical record, help support the patient’s position, or even participate in separate procedures, which could improve hospital efficiency.

Senior Design Instructor: Dr. Eric Fuller
Competition Mentor: Dr. Sarah Rowlinson