Enhancing Safety of Ebola Workers

Photo of Taskin Padir

ECE Associate Professor Taskin Padir was awarded a $54K Rapid Response Research NSF grant for "Realization of a Medical Cyber-Physical System to Enhance Safety of Ebola Workers".

Abstract Source: NSF

Motivated by the fact that the 2014 Ebola outbreak is the largest in history and there is a pressing need to understand how to improve delivery of care with the right technological interventions at the right place, this Rapid Response Research is aimed at realizing a human-in-the-loop medical cyber-physical system (CPS) for monitoring patients, insuring compliance with relevant safety protocols, and collecting data for advancing multidisciplinary research on infectious disease control. The ultimate goal is to enhance safety of Ebola workers by minimizing their contact with potentially contaminated surfaces and materials through integration of methods and technologies to realize smart and connected treatment clinics. This project could impact the response to infectious disease outbreaks by augmenting existing treatment clinics with cost-effective, modular, reconfigurable and open-design CPS technologies. The project will train a new cadre of engineering students, researchers and innovators to be sensitive to societal needs and national priorities by involving K-Gray, undergraduate and graduate students in all aspects of the project, especially at the co-ideation and co-design stages. The project will bring together a multidisciplinary team of engineers, scientists, technologists, medical experts, and humanitarian aid workers to develop holistic solutions to infectious disease control. The broader impacts also include operational cost savings in treatment clinics by reducing the need and use of the personal protective equipment and preserve resources such as water by reducing consumption.

In order to prevent, detect and respond to current Ebola outbreak and future similar infectious disease outbreaks, this research plan has the following interconnected aims: (1) contribute new knowledge, methods, and tools to better understand the operational procedures in an infectious disease treatment clinic, (2) design, implement and validate a treatment ward augmented with a medical CPS for patient monitoring, (3) apply intuitive control interfaces and data visualization tools for practical human-robot interaction, (4) realize traded, coordinated and collaborative shared control techniques for safe and effective mobile robot navigation inside a treatment facility, (5) assess acceptability and effectiveness of the technology among health care workers and patients. The team will develop a self-contained, modular and reconfigurable system composed of a connected sensor network for patient monitoring and a mobile robot platform for telemedicine that will primarily focus on the interoperability and integration of existing standardized hardware and software systems to realize a testbed for verification and validation of a medical CPS. Medical, emergency response and humanitarian aid experts will be engaged to critically assess user-experiences and acceptability among medical staff to develop pathways for fielding the system in a treatment clinic. This RAPID project will lead the way in designing the next generation of human-in-the-loop medical CPS for empowering health care workers worldwide in treating patients during infectious disease outbreaks.

Related Faculty: Taskin Padir

Related Departments:Electrical & Computer Engineering