Researchers in fields that range from biomedical engineering to psychology have projects in the works that can improve our bodies and our well-being. Detailing some of the designs in a double-page body grid
Photos by Luther Caverly
For eight months, 21 aerospace and biomedical engineering students worked together to create a crash test dummy that would allow testers to find out whether a concussion would result from an over-the-handlebars bicycle crash in various scenarios.
A Nose That Knows
In the works: An electronic nose that can rapidly detect and identify bacteria. The project is led by Adrian Chan, associate director of the Ottawa-Carleton Institute for Biomedical Engineering. E-noses mimic the olfactory system by using sensors to sniff out the bad stuff. The project, launched in partnership with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, could help detect food-borne illnesses such as listeria.
No Fail Inhale
Pressurized metered dose inhalers—or “puffers”—were developed in the 1950s, and not much has changed since then. Edgar Matida, associate professor in the faculty of mechanical and aerospace engineering, researches how aerosol medication is delivered to the lungs and looks at ways to improve the process.
Ken Storey, a professor of biochemistry, biology, and chemistry, studies animals that hibernate during winter by lowering their body temperature in order to discover how to freeze human organs without harming them. This means hearts and livers can be preserved for longer periods of time for transplant operations.
FAI, or femoroacetabular impingement, is a common cause of hip pain. Chris Joslin, an associate professor in the school of information technology at Carleton, is dealing with this common orthopaedic problem by looking at methods to simulate the interaction between the socket and head to make more accurate computer-aided surgical plans.
A new robotic device invented by mechanical engineering doctoral students Richard Beranek and Ali Morbi is designed to help patients leave hospital two to five days sooner—and help hospitals save money. GaitEnable lifts patients out of bed, supports them while they walk, and stops them from falling.
Academics at the Centre for Research on Stress, Coping and Well-Being at Carleton focus on how stressful events can promote or exacerbate pathological states. The team, led by Professor Hymie Anisman, also assess how the brain influences the immune system and, conversely, how immune activation affects brain functioning.
Stephen Fai, director of Carleton’s Immersive Media Studio, leads a team that looks at brain lipids and the role they play in degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Physics student Marc Chamberland has a prototype to increase the accuracy of radiation beams targeted at cancerous tumours in the chest. Lung tumours are constantly moving as the patient breathes. The prototype tracks the motion to improve treatment.
Hanspeter Frei, a professor of mechanical engineering, along with Luke Duross, BEng/10, has started work on a small screw—think of it as being almost like a drywall anchor—that can be inserted into the lumbar spine to provide support for people who’ve lost mobility and back strength because of osteoarthritis. Modifications are being made to the screw to ensure that it’s less invasive to surrounding soft tissue.
Technologies that monitor pulmonary function don’t always deliver accurate information on a timely basis. Andy Adler, Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering, is working on a low-cost monitoring system that is portable and can provide accurate data quickly to doctors trying to determine why a person isn’t breathing properly.
Work by Carleton neuroscience professor Patrice Smith could repair damaged nerves. Smith, along with colleagues at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., discovered a specific molecule in the central nervous system that suppresses our ability to repair injured neurons. Inhibiting this molecule, known as Socs3, might make it possible to repair an injured nervous system.
Too much radiation can harm a cancer patient, and too little radiation can be ineffective in treating tumours. Professor Dave Rogers, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Medical Physics, studies means of calibrating radiation treatments to make them more effective.