The Design and Commercialization of a Medical Ultrasound Phantom; The Impact of Listening to Music on Brain Function Throughout Child Development

Porco, Alexis, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Barker, Shannon, EN-Biomed Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Baritaud, Catherine, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

Expectant mothers will often hear common beliefs or conceptions about pregnancy and how to raise their child, such as doubts of epidural safety and playing music throughout a child’s early years can make them smarter. Through the design and commercialization of a medical ultrasound phantom, the technical topic addresses the question of epidural safety by taking into account the need for regular calibration of ultrasound imaging systems, such as the Accuro. It is a small handheld ultrasound device, produced by Rivanna Medical LLC, that guides needle placement during epidurals but requires routine calibration in order to function accurately. The science, technology and society (STS) topic provides a framework through which to analyze how listening to music impacts the brain and psychological health in children throughout their early development. The coupled technical and STS topics address conceptions about motherhood, and they can help alleviate fears or concerns of the unknown in mothers.

The technical report outlines the design and commercialization of a medical ultrasound calibration phantom to target the need for systematic calibration of ultrasound equipment. Almost all calibration phantoms are devices used to ensure quality assurance and control requirements are met for each component of an ultrasound imaging system. Through the calibration of ultrasound systems like the Accuro, the device can properly function and serve as a means of alleviating fears in mothers receiving epidurals. The technical project was achieved by defining product requirements based on user and regulatory needs and designing the calibration phantom to meet those specifications. In addition, phantom manufacturing processes were defined through the assembly of a calibration prototype, followed by preliminary product validation testing to ensure all target requirements were met.

A phantom prototype was created, containing wire and contrast targets for imaging purposes, and non-statistical and statistical tests were performed for each previously outlined product requirement. The results of the validation tests showed that dimension and weight measurement requirements of the phantom were met, and the fabrication of the imaging depth and anechoic target also met target specifications. However, assembled wire target distances and a few brightness contrast targets were not consistent with the requirements, therefore; a different scattering material should be poured into the target channels in future prototypes.

Much of current literature regarding how music affects the brain in children presents conflicting viewpoints. Thus, the STS research sought to answer how listening to music impacts the child’s brain throughout their early development. A literature review was conducted of secondary sources, organized by age group of the research subjects: prenatal, newborn, infant, toddler and preschool. Additionally, the framework of technological determinism was used to prohibit the influence of additional variables when analyzing this topic.

The results of the analysis showed that there is too little research to draw a distinct conclusion for the prenatal group. The newborn group demonstrated studies in which music has general positive effects on neurological development, but more evidence is needed for identifying specific impacts. The research for the infant, toddler and preschool groups all showed that music has great specific benefits on brain function, such as increased focus, improved development in communication and social skills, improved memory and phonological awareness. Overall, the results concluded that music’s effects vary, dependent upon age.

Both the technical and STS topics sought to answer and validate two conceptions that are common to arise during motherhood. However, there is still a need for more research and resources to be allocated in these areas. The technical and STS projects can both serve as a way for mothers to become more informed in caring for their child.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
phantom, ultrasound calibration, music, child development

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Shannon Barker
STS Advisor: Catherine Baritaud
Technical Team Members: Helen Anton, Jennifer Marchibroda, Nicole White

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