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* William Peine
* George Chiu
* Ruth Ann Smolen

April 18, 2007

Engineering students to display patient-moving prototypes

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Mechanical engineering students at Purdue University have worked with nursing students to design new devices to help nurses move and transport patients.

"Patient handling and mobility is a big problem for nursing, so we asked our students to come up with solutions," said William Peine, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and a faculty member of the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering, based at Purdue's Discovery Park. "We asked them to create devices to help nurses move patients, and we didn't give them much more information beyond that. Much of the focus has been on the difficulties of moving obese patients."

Twenty-three students in the senior design class were divided into four teams, and then each team designed and built their prototypes during the semester. The engineering students met with nursing students to learn about challenges related to moving patients.

The course was taught by Peine and George Chiu, an associate professor of mechanical engineering. They worked with Ruth Ann Smolen, a visiting assistant professor of nursing, and Deb Koester, a nursing doctoral student. The engineers initiated contact with the nursing students through the Regenstrief Center.

"It's a collaborative project with the School of Nursing," Peine said. "The mechanical engineering students met with a senior nursing class and brainstormed ideas together. The nursing faculty have also contributed to the design process and participated in the design reviews. It's been a great experience for everyone."

The students will display their prototypes from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Wednesday (April 25) in the Helen R. Johnson Hall of Nursing, Room 108.

Each engineering team designed and built a functional prototype: An airbed that helps adjust patient positions; a special wheelchair with a hydraulic lift that enables nurses to slide a patient off the bed without lifting the patient; a turntable-like bed that converts into a configuration resembling a wheelchair to enable patients to sit up in the bed without the need to slide or push them; and a stroke-rehabilitation device that goes on a wheelchair.

The students prepared reports about their designs and progress during the semester and a final report at the conclusion of the one-semester course.

Writer: Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709,

Sources: William J. Peine, (765) 494-5626,

George Chiu, (765) 494-2688,

Ruth Ann Smolen, (765) 494-4025,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Note to Journalists: The students will display their prototypes from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on April 25 in the Helen R. Johnson Hall of Nursing, Room 108.

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