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MIAD seniors design solutions to improve life of cancer patients and caregivers

Apr 11, 2019

MILWAUKEE (April 11, 2019) … Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) seniors are applying technology and creativity to design solutions to improve at-home care for cancer patients and help caregivers manage responsibilities and medical information for patients. These projects are on view at the college’s annual Senior Exhibition, April 19 – May 11, 2019, 273 E. Erie St., Milwaukee. The MIAD Senior Exhibition is generously sponsored by BMO Harris Bank.

Redesigned palliative care pack for cancer patients

3D printed ID project

Clare O’Malley shows the portion of her palliative care pack printed on MIAD’s 3D printers

Inspired by watching her brother experience complications and routine care for Type 1 Diabetes, ulcerative colitis and epilepsy, Clare O’Malley (Industrial Design), of Mequon, Wis., wanted to design a device for medical patients.

“Last fall, he had bacterial meningitis and was in a coma for two weeks, with IVs and a PICC line going into both arms. It can be a little intimidating,” said Clare.

In conducting research for her senior project, Clare talked with a young cancer patient named Emma. “She had two rounds of chemo and an IV fluid backpack that holds 1000 mL, with fluid for hydration, anti-nausea medication and a white blood cell growth inhibitor. She had to wear it 24 hours per day for four months. The electric pump weighs a lot, and the IV is 5-feet long and has to go into a Hickman (arterial) line,” Clare explained.

Mentored by employees at GE Healthcare, Clare designed a new system to help cancer patients manage the side effects from chemo, through a lighter weight, more comfortable and more attractive system.

Sewing in MIAD Textiles Lab

Clare O’Malley sews together the palliative care pack in MIAD’s Textiles Lab

Clare’s new pack acts more like a belt than a backpack. It can be moved to conceal it under clothes, or to accommodate daily activities like driving a car or sleeping. The new pack carries 750 mL of fluid. Clare’s design also replaces the 4-inch pump with magnets that activate it when they are connected. Her design was inspired by the Omnipod system for diabetics.

“This could eliminate up to 80 percent of the bulk in the current backpacks,” Clare said. “I love the idea that something like this doesn’t need to be so frightening and bulky. Ultimately, this project is not about me. It’s about Emma and changing someone’s life.

To create her prototype, Clare used 3D printers in MIAD’s Open Lab to make the base of the packs, and the college’s Textiles Lab to make a pattern for the bag and sew it together.

Smartwatch app design

Tess Powers is designing a smart interface to help patients and caregivers

Smart interface to help caregivers

Tess Powers (Industrial Design) of Copley, Ohio, is developing a smartwatch app, mobile app and website to help patients and caregivers track and organize important medical information during chronic or long-term medical conditions or illnesses.

Through the app, people can track information such as doctor’s appointments, upload key documents and be reminded about administering critical medication through their smartwatch.

Web, mobile and smartwatch app

Examples of the website, mobile app and smartwatch app by Tess Powers

“For example, if a mom gets diagnosed with cancer, family members could communicate about doctor’s appointments, medication, symptoms, etc., through the app and share certain information with other family and friends who want to help but are not sure what to do,” Tess explained. “There’s so much patients and caregivers have to keep track of during any treatment or illness, and it’s overwhelming to keep it all straight. My goal is to alleviate some of that stress for both the patient and the caregiver to make everyone’s lives a bit easier during a difficult time.

Tess is using knowledge gained in a user interface/user experience course she took at MIAD last semester, along with research via interviews with people who have been through or live with serious medical conditions to create this project.

“I like the challenge of understanding how people will interact with technology and figuring out how best to organize the most important information for them,” Tess said.

Admission to the MIAD Senior Exhibition is free. Gallery hours are Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. –  5 p.m. The MIAD Senior Exhibition Opening Reception is April 26, 5 – 9 p.m.

About MIAD: An accredited, nonprofit college, MIAD provides a transformative Bachelor of Fine Arts education that prepares students of diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds for fulfilling and financially rewarding careers. MIAD fosters innovative, entrepreneurial and disruptive thinking that benefits our students and our corporate and nonprofit partners. MIAD also brings robust career pathways and college-readiness experiences to high school youth and provides cultural experiences and programming to the Greater Milwaukee community.

The MIAD Senior Exhibition is generously sponsored by:

BMO Harris Bank logo