Health problems caused by drinking and smoking do not only affect public health, but also budget for purchasing medical equipments.
Jirawat Jitprasootwit, a senior student of Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University, found that the results from smoking too much are hyperlipidemia and embolism that can cause paralysis. Finally, the country has to spend millions baht for purchasing modern medical equipments for treating such disease.
“According to the information from Neurological Institute, Department of Medical Services, there are about 400,000 people in Thailand who have paralyzed toes. So, we have to spend a lot of money to purchase medical equipments for treating this specific symptom.” The researcher said.
The problem made Jirawat and his team decided to design and develop a system for stimulating muscle, so as to be used as supporting equipment for treating patients who have paralyzed toes. Moreover, it can decrease the number of import equipment which is 150,000-200,000 baht each.
Normally, paralyzed patients’ bodies will be paralyzed one side at a time, so that they are unable to get up, and need to do physical therapy and take medication. Doctors or physical therapists usually choose to treat large muscle first; so as to make the patients can walk again and can help themselves as much as possible.
Jirawat said treating large muscle only is not a good way, because 50% of the patients who have been treated for awhile will have toes that bleed internally.
That is the reason why Jirawat’s team decided to develop hardware and software for stimulating muscle, in order to be used as an alternative treatment, and increase a chance for all of the patients to reach for treatment.
The team developed hardware for processing data from brain function by sticking small electrode on the skin. They use this method because patients naturally do not like using obvious medical devices that might make them feel embarrassed.
The muscle stimulator that Mahidol University’s team developed is wireless and small. It can be worn under the knee where nerves gather to move leg muscle. Also, they have developed a sensor for detecting walking of the patient at the heel.
The sensor is used for detecting pressure at the heel, and then sending the signal to the stimulator under the knee. If there is no pressure, the device will vibrate at 50 hertz or over, depends on the diagnosis of the doctor or the physical therapist, so as to stimulate the muscle faster.
The stimulator uses power from a cell phone battery, and has a warning alarm when the battery is low. The team has calculated and believed that if the device was developed for commercial production, the price would be 1,000-10,000 baht for each.
Right now, the device has been testing with 10 volunteer patients at Neurological Institute and Physical Therapy Clinic of Mahidol University, in order to gather suggestions from real users. The team has planned to make the device lighter and easier to be used, and then pass on to the private sector for commercial production, so as to reduce the number of import equipments.
Furthermore, the device has won the first prize of National Software Contest 2011 or NSC 2011, which was organized by National Electronics and Computer Technology Center recently
Date : May 9, 2011