A fresh graduate from the American University in Cairo (AUC) received the university’s Tomorrow’s Leaders Scholarship for designing, fabricating, and programming a mechanical engineering prototype to evaluate the forces between the hand and splints worn by patients suffering from base-of-thumb osteoarthritis with 3D printable technology.
AUC alumni, Belquis Haider, developed her project at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, through which she aimed to provide patients with osteoarthritis better mobility in their joints.
“The aim of the project I worked on was the instrumentation of a splint with soft-sensing technology for evaluating the mechanical forces and patient compliance,” Haider explained. “This is significant to inform future designs of splints, especially that there are no data to justify their use, and this can also lead to a customized patient treatment.”
In the early stages of osteoarthritis, splints have been prescribed to limit joint movements and reduce pain, but there is little knowledge about the optimal design of splints, considering how they interact with the patient’s hands. There is also limited data on patient compliance with the treatment, according to a press release published by the AUC.
“Sensing technologies is an area that has been of interest to me for a long time due to the ubiquitous nature that render them useful in various applications,” said Haider.
“My vision has always revolved around innovating and creating technological solutions that can serve society. Our society in the Middle East and North Africa is in dire need of technological breakthroughs and innovations that are accessible, sustainable, and serve existing needs,” Haider elaborated, adding “I believe that the education and support I received from AUC are what propelled me toward success.”
The young talent also programmed and integrated a wireless platform to stream the data collected by sensors to a mobile application for clinical evaluation. This involved an iterative design process, manufacturing of soft sensors, and mechatronic component selection and programming.