Digital Solution for Children with Cerebral Palsy – Stanford Report – Stanford University News | Hot Mobile Press

Medical student Blynn Shideler came to Stanford with an award-winning health device—and determined to make it better.

Left to right: Maria Shcherbakova, Blynn Shideler (with the original bulky bracelet prototype), and Taylor Lallas of the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign. (Image credit: Courtesy of Blynn Shideler)

The device addresses a need in the cerebral palsy community. Often, children with cerebral palsy — a group of disorders that affect movement, balance, and posture — need daily sessions with a physical therapist to build strength and improve motor skills. As a bioengineering student at Columbia University, Shideler thought there had to be a better way.

He worked with other students to create a device that would make it easier for these children to do their therapy exercises at home or anywhere. The result was BUDI – the Biofeedback Upper-limb Device for Impairment – a bulky bracelet with sensors that track movement and provide feedback on how the user would like their movement to be adjusted.

BUDI was recognized as the Most Outstanding Design Project from Columbia Biomedical Engineering and Columbia shared the news on social media. People in the cerebral palsy community have taken notice.

“A teenager in Ohio reached out and said, ‘I have CP, I’ve seen your product and I’d like to try it,'” Shideler said.

But Shideler didn’t have any bracelets to give away. His team had only built two prototypes. Inspired by this message from someone he didn’t know who lived across the country, Shideler set out to produce BUDI on a larger scale.

Create solutions that scale

In the fall of 2021, Shideler enrolled at Stanford School of Medicine with plans to start a program that would give children with cerebral palsy the opportunity to try technology to improve mobility. He received a grant from the FDA’s Pediatric Device Consortium to develop wearable devices and assistive technologies for pediatric rehabilitation.

Shideler also attended an introductory session for CardinalKit, an open-source platform developed by Stanford researchers for coding digital health research projects.

“I learned how to create an iOS app and what to do with the available sensors on Apple Watches and iPhones,” he said. “It really clicked; Maybe BUDI could be developed as software on an off-the-shelf smartwatch instead of building bracelets and sending them to people.”

If BUDI were available on the App Store, Shideler thought, kids everywhere could have on-demand physical therapy on their wrists. It would give them some autonomy, help alleviate problems caused by the shortage of physical therapists and ease the burden on families who currently take their children to therapy every day.

building a team

Oliver Aalami, a clinical professor of vascular surgery, moderated the Intro to CardinalKit session and suggested Shideler sign up Biodesign for digital health, a course taught by Aalami. In class, students work in teams of three to identify an unmet healthcare need that can be addressed with digital solutions. Teams research and evaluate needs, brainstorm solutions, and learn to evaluate their ideas.

Ohio State University biomedical engineering student Mihir Joshi writes code for BUDI. (Image credit: Courtesy of Blynn Shideler)

At the beginning of this course, Shideler had already surveyed children with cerebral palsy and was able to narrow his proposed solution to a technology that focused on upper body strength and dexterity, since most of the available therapies focused on walking and lower body strength. So it was only natural that Shideler would serve as a mentor for the next quarter Building for digital healtha follow-up course in which students create prototypes of their designs Biodesign for digital health.

In building BUDI, Shideler worked with Stanford computer science student Taylor Lallas, Stanford graduate student Maria Shcherbakova, and Ohio biomedical engineering student Mihir Joshi.

The team worked with four faculty advisors: Scott Delp, professor of bioengineering and mechanical engineering; Jennifer O’Malley, a clinical assistant professor of neurology whose research focuses on children with movement disorders; Emily Kraus, clinical assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Stanford Children’s Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center; and Vishnu Ravi, MD, the lead architect of the CardinalKit project.

BUDI: A new buddy for therapy

The first release of the BUDI application is a platform that allows users to follow therapeutic exercises on an iPhone while real-time motion data from a user’s Apple Watch is sent to the iPhone to provide biofeedback and create an interactive mobility training program. User data is stored in HIPAA-compliant security on Google Cloud and fully integrated with Apple Fitness to track therapy in Apple Health and see progress over time.

“Regular participation in quality therapy services is essential to maximizing the functioning of children with cerebral palsy,” said O’Malley. “Equal access (geographical, financial, social) to such services is a major barrier for many children. Blynn’s device uses easy-to-use technology to deliver a novel approach to therapy that also addresses the issue of accessibility and equity for children in need.”

BUDI also encourages communication between therapy providers and their patients, allowing pediatric users to gain autonomy in their own therapy.

“A single device that leverages modern technology while tackling gaps in equity and accessibility AND promoting user autonomy is an exciting and very welcome innovation!” said O’Malley.

And the first beta tester — the Ohio native who requested the original bulky bracelet — is ready and waiting.

“He has met with our team several times to give us feedback and even came to the presentation for our last biodesign class,” Shideler said. “We are all very happy to hand over the application to him. A long way has passed since the first bracelet. We hope that many people with cerebral palsy, or really anyone who wants to improve their flexibility and mobility, will try it and tell us how we can improve.”

Leave a Comment