Now a 17 year-old, Frank Nguyen spent years faced with the kind of parental issue most kids will never have to deal with – he worried about his Mom’s health every day. As a sixth grader, he was distracted from his studies by the unease he felt for his mother’s health issues.
“My mom started getting really sick,” Nguyen told thestar.com. “I’d be scared she would have problems and I didn’t know about it.”
For years, Nguyen found himself overwrought as his mother slowly lost sight in one eye, lost a share of her sight in the other, and began to have hearing problems. Now, as her health deteriorates, Lan Nguyen is plagued by dizziness, thyroid issues and cardiac problems such as a dangerously irregular heartbeat.
But Nguyen has found inspiration in his desire to help his mother via a summer project that he took on at Ryerson University. The result is a prototype of a heart rate alert monitoring device, HelpWear HeartWatch, he hopes will not only help his mother, but people around the world with problems like hers.
While the current version is a bit large and unwieldy, the work it does is larger. Placed on the user’s wrist, the device uses a light and a censor to keep track the patient’s heart rate, and should the user suffer a heart attack, it’s capable of sending a text message to a caregiver or emergency personnel.
The prototype is 3D printed and is worn on the wrist. Two microcontrollers, a memory unit with eight gigabytes of space, a messaging system which uses cellular networks and GPS functionality are all driven by two rechargeable lithium ion batteries.
When the user puts on the device, a small green light on the underside of the monitor flashes against their skin. That light is reflected back to a censor on the wristband and an algorithm determines a patient’s heart rate using changes in voltage that the censor receives. The monitor stores heartbeat data and time stamps the results, and those results can be read back from the device’s on board memory card.
But according to Nguyen, it’s the fact that the HelpWear HeartWatch can make a virtual call to 911 is what sets it apart. If the monitor detects changes to a user’s heart rate that fall outside a preset, normal range following a series of “rate checks,” the text message is automatically triggered. That message includes critical information to emergency personnel such as the age of the patient, a medical history and the location of the device and the user in real time.
Nguyen and his mother are residents of Toronto, and his mother spends most of her time indoors these days. Nguyen and Andre Bertram, a friend from school, ultimately completed development of their monitor at a tech program offered by the Ryerson University Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Do you know of any other medical devices which rely on 3D printing either for prototyping or end-use production? Let us know in the 3D Printed HelpWear HeartWatch forum thread on 3DPB.com.