As a biomedical engineering student, you might be wondering how working at ACR Homes will be a good fit for you. We wanted to share the story of this biomedical engineering internship to give you an idea of how one employee's experience helped move her toward a future career in device development. We hope it inspires you to think outside the box and find a job in patient care that could be the catalyst for a unique perspective.
How ACR Homes Helped Me as a Biomedical Engineering Student
As an undergraduate at the U of M pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering, ACR Homes was good fit for me because of the first-hand exposure to the plethora of medical equipment that is used in a home setting for those who live with a variety of disabilities.
Working for ACR Homes has given me a new and very important perspective into the medical field that I believe gets overlooked. Additionally, the residents at ACR Homes have taught me how valuable one’s quality of life is.
I learned to look beneath the surface; more commonly the issue is already being addressed and you need to determine if there is a better way for the problem to be overcome. This internship has allowed me to tap into my own innovation by finding a topic independently and being my own project manager.
I’ll be able to use this experience for reference in future job interviews and say that I found a real world issue and worked to find a solution.
When I present my work to future employers I can proudly say that the project was my own. As a bonus, by completing the internship and attending Internship Seminars with Jim Nelson, the CEO, I will be able to receive a letter of recommendation from him to give to possible employers.
~Myrriah Laine, U of M Student, Direct Care Professional, and Intern
Finding a Research Question That Relates to Biomedical Engineering
ACR Homes has over 60 residential houses and I work at any home that has open shifts that need to be filled, so I was able to observe issues that occur in a variety of homes. A large majority of residents that I have worked with have been prescribed range of motion exercises in attempt to keep muscles from getting too tight and maintaining flexible joints and in some cases, to try to regain function. I observed that the exercises are not always done to the capacity they should be to get the maximum benefit from them. One particular resident who suffered from a stroke and now has limited use of their left hand made me committed to the topic of range of motion exercises. Multiple residents have suffered from some form of traumatic brain injury, or an aneurysm, or a stroke – all of which can lead to cell death within the brain and therefore loss of motor function. In order to regain at least partial function of affected hands, exercises need to be completed frequently to make new neuronal motor pathways.
My research question became: How can the quality and frequency of range of motion exercises be increased?
Answering My Biomedical Engineering Research Question
The solution needed to have minimal impact on the direct care staff and their busy schedules while having a large impact on the residents. Being an engineer, this meant creating a device that the staff could apply to the resident's hand and their job was done. I began to design my own hand exoskeleton using SolidWorks and referencing existing devices. My proposed model will be motor driven and will be able to bend each knuckle in the motion of forming and unclenching a fist. Designing of the device has entailed numerous drawings, 2D cardboard models, and hours of self-teaching SolidWorks. When I complete the 3D model, I hope to 3D print a prototype.