Date of Graduation

Spring 2015

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Major

Biomedical Engineering - Biomechanics - Cooperative Education

Research Sponsor

Tiffany Marchand, MD

First Reader

Mary C. Verstraete

Second Reader

Jim Keszenheimer

Abstract

Currently, thousands of people each year require the use of a rigid cervical collar. The collars are used in situations of emergency, as well as in situations of precaution, when spinal injury is or may be present. There are many different styles and sizes of cervical collars available on the market today; however, common side effects are noticed when wearing the collars that may reduce the effectiveness to the patient. Often patients complain of general discomfort issues or may suffer from more serious side effects such as pressure sores, increased intracranial pressure, dysphagia, and abnormal distraction within the upper spine. A need exists for the modification of current cervical collars to reduce the painful or uncomfortable side effects associated with wearing them which would, in turn, increase the effectiveness of the therapy that the collar provides to the spine.

There are two main components of most cervical collar designs: the rigid outer shell and the inner padding. Both of these components have been considered by our design team in the modification design to improve the efficacy of the cervical collar and to reduce side effects from wearing them. The main goals of this project were to reduce the overall discomfort patients experience that is associated with overheating and dysphagia side effects. As a team, we have researched and tested many materials to determine the best fit for our modified cervical collar. The tests included an end user survey that determined the overall comfortability between the available collars, a cold temperature retention test that showed how long the prospective cooling materials would maintain lower temperatures, and an in-collar temperature test that looked at the temperatures of the materials within the lining of a collar

As a team, we have designed a rigid cervical collar that utilizes a slightly flexible, but durable 1/16th inch polyethylene outer shell with padded gel inserts. The outer shell is a two piece design that incorporates the favorable concepts of currently manufactured collars. The two pieces were cut using a scroll saw and molded using an application of heat to the desired positions. There are multiple cut outs in the plastic of both pieces that give flexibility when fitting the collar and the pieces can be connected using velcro straps. The inner “cooling system” is composed of two hydrogels: TheraPearl Technology freezable beads and a pressure activated cooling pad marketed by The Green Pet Shop. The cooling materials will then be wrapped together in polyolefin shrink wrap and placed within specified cutout positions in the antimicrobial padding. Finally the components will be covered in a heat resistant cloth material to ensure direct contact with the skin is compatible and comfortable for the patient. The modifications focus on reducing the hot spots on the cheeks, chin, and neck that are commonly associated with discomfort in patients, will address the discomfort of the chin and neck associated with dysphagia, and will also maintain the rigidity and restriction of motion necessary of the collar. Testing on the efficacy of the design concepts brought forth is still in progress, but we believe the modified cervical collar can increase patient comfort levels and reduce overheating.

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