The past few weeks have been filled with prototyping, traveling, and clinical trials!
Just this past week we finally started our clinical trial for PalliAssist! Just three days after gaining the final approval, I hopped on a plane and headed down to Barretos, Brazil to ensure the kickoff of our trial went as smoothly as possible. Just to keep me on my toes, we had a few unexpected hiccups occur, causing the app to not work properly when I arrived. Luckily, it only took a few hours to resolve these issues and we were up and running again, ready for patient use.
The clinical trial we are running involves two parts: a small usability study followed by a larger and longer trial, both of which testing the app with current patients of the palliative care facility there in Barretos. First, the usability study will be used to assess how easy patients find it to use the system. A given patient will be allowed to use the app while they are in the hospital, and will then be asked many questions about how easy it was to do each task. In the larger study, patients will actually take the app home with them and use it to communicate with their doctors. After about a month of using PalliAssist, the overall performance of the system will be assessed by the doctors and patients. From both these studies, we hope to prove that PalliAssist is effective and gain information that will help us to further improve it.
Once again, our friends at Barretos were incredibly hospitable, making the long and short trip much more enjoyable!
At the beginning of the fall, I decided I wanted to use my projects to broaden my skill set rather than deepen it. Hence, I decided to take on PalliAssist to develop some computer science skills rather than a more mechanical project. Looking back, I’m glad I made that decision because of how much I have learned, but I often miss getting to work on those mechanical problems. This semester, though, I’ve had more opportunities to contribute to Josh’s and Karlee’s implementation projects with my experience in SolidWorks and mechanical design, which has been a blast! Most of my work has been with Josh generating new prototypes for a way to attach our device to the nurse’s phone. It’s been really good to work out those old muscles again.
One elective that I’m taking this semester is about characterizing the mechanics of the diaphragm. This class has been great to put into practice what I’m learning in my physiology class, and get a little more depth into my mechanics. The main grade in the class will be the analysis of some data already collected by our professor, with which we may even be able to publish. Even though I chose not to pursue a thesis-based graduate degree, I think it will be really beneficial to wet my feet in research with this small project.
Some exiting news outside GMI is that I’m starting to get job interviews! I’m in an exciting and uncertain time of having no idea where life will take me in four months. Hopefully I’ll be able to share even better news next month about accepting an offer for employment!
Other big news is that the Rice Club Tennis Team QUALIFIED FOR NATIONALS! We were the third best school at the state tournament, only losing out to the big state schools Texas A&M and University of Texas, and earned a spot to play in Florida in April. I’m super proud of my team and had a blast playing with them!