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Device measures force used to deliver a baby

When the birth of a baby does not proceed smoothly, how much force should a doctor or midwife apply? If a complicated delivery takes too long, the child could suffocate, yet pulling too hard could injure the child.

To address this dilemma, Johns Hopkins University biomedical engineering students have invented an unobtrusive device that measures the amount of force a doctor or midwife uses while delivering a baby. A wireless transmitter sends the data from the doctor to a computer across the room. The system is already being tested at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, where researchers hope it eventually will help them identify the safest delivery method for a complicated birth. The inventors believe their device also could be used as a teaching tool, helping obstetricians-in-training learn how to assess the amount of force they use during a routine delivery.

The electromyographic instrument, which measures electrical impulses in the muscles of the forearm, was devised and constructed by a team of undergraduates during a semester-long biomedical engineering design team course. Based on this achievement, four team members who made the most significant contributions have been selected as finalists in this year's Collegiate Inventors Competition, sponsored by the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio. The Johns Hopkins device was one of six undergraduate projects to advance to this stage of the contest. During the week of Oct. 20, the students will travel to New York City, where the final judging and announcement of winners will take place.

The assignment that produced the device came from design course instructor Robert Allen, a senior lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Allen and his obstetrics research colleagues have been looking for a method of measuring the force used in a delivery as a way to help determine the best technique to employ during complicated births. Previously, inventors have placed sensors in gloves or on
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Contact: Phil Sneiderman
prs@jhu.edu
410-516-7160
Johns Hopkins University
17-Oct-2003


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