Redesigning the Incentive Spirometer; User-Centered Design in Medical Devices and Disruptions to the Medical Device Actor Network

Vu, Theodore, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Ferguson, Sean, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Morikawa, Masahiro, MD-Family Medicine, University of Virginia

Biomedical devices are an important part of healthcare that help improve the lives of patients in many ways. Sometimes these devices can have different reactions from users whether they be the patients themselves or the clinicians using them. The overall design of each device is important to create a positive relationship and behavior between the user and the device itself. This is why engineers who design these medical devices must focus on the user when making a successful device. These engineers can also utilize many different technologies to reach this goal.

For my technical project, my capstone team and I were tasked by our advisor, Dr. Morikawa of UVA Family Medicine, to redesign the incentive spirometer. The incentive spirometer is a plastic, non-electric device that patients use to exercise their lungs in order to recover from pulmonary surgeries or illnesses. However, our advisor observed low patient adherence to the device, this was due to the fact that patients described it to be very boring and unengaging. My team, advisor, and I came up with the idea of gamifying the incentive spirometer by designing some sort of carnival type game that the patient can play while using the incentive spirometer. By redesigning the device we hoped to influence the patient behavior to increase patient adherence.

My STS thesis investigated the system that user-centered design creates between patients, clinicians, engineers, and the devices through an Actor-Network Theory lens while also examining the ways that design can influence patient behavior. It also goes into the outside actors of the network that can help engineers improve the production of these devices, such as 3D printing. These actors change the network around and influence engineers in the way they can rethink the problem and solution.
My capstone team was only successful in designing and producing certain parts of the device, through the use of CAD and 3D printing. No final prototype was created, but successful printing of current parts and assembly of a product can be worked on by the future capstone team tasked by Dr. Morikawa. We hope in the future new designs of the incentive spirometer can create a fun environment so patients can enjoy utilizing it while recovering.

I would like to thank Professor Ferguson for his guidance in writing my STS thesis and improving my STS understanding. Also, I would like to thank Dr. Morikawa for tasking us with the technical project and my capstone team for working with me to design a new product.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Medical Device, Biomedical Device

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering

Technical Advisor: Masahiro Morikawa

STS Advisor: Sean Ferguson

Technical Team Members: Danna Du, Paul Miranda, Isabelle Talicuran, Shirley Zhang

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