PLTW: Bionic Arms, Neuroshield, and Sleep Walking


Emanuel Alaniz

The Biomedical Program within Project Lead the Way offers students the opportunity to enhance their skills in the medical field. Recently, the fourth year PLTW: Biomed students took on a new project which required them to discover or explain a new biomedical innovation. A biomedical innovation, in layman’s terms, is basically a new method, idea, or practice that is used in the medical field. Bandaids, tissues, and even hand sanitizer are common items that can be considered to be biomedical innovations. 

One group developed a bionic prosthetic through a computer simulation program. This was inspired by the general interest to create and design a more modern and effective prosthetic, compared to the already existing models in the world. A project inspired since 2017, this group’s freshman year, with inspiration drawn from Saint Joe Alumni, Kelsey Hartman. Though a real model cannot be created due to a lack of funding, the students worked their hardest to create a functioning waterproof arm with anti chafing capabilities. This draws to our attention the fact that we might not realize it, but the smallest of improvements is an improvement nonetheless. 

Another group worked on a neuroshield. They explained as a device that goes around the back of someone’s neck, and compresses the jugular veins. This constricts the blood flow from leaving the brain and expands the veins around the brain to give extra cushion for the impact. This innovation was inspired by the fears that a sport athlete lives, whether it be football, hockey, or any other contact sport. Concussions and other head related trauma is not a joke, which is something that many Saint Joe students have witnessed first hand throughout the sports at Saint Joe. This product aims to not only better the conditions of those in dire situations, but also prevent any further injury. 

Shea Ruszkowski is focused on a biomedical innovation aimed to attend the needs of sleep walkers.

She explains, “We know that sleepwalking can bring about many dangers. There have been instances where people have died or even been severely harmed so we have created a product to solve this problem. Our product is to have a mat on the ground that measures pressure. In order for this product to work, the door and window must be closed. When pressure is detected the door and window will both lock automatically, while also sending a call to family. If the person is awake and accidentally sets it off, they can go on the app that is on their phone to turn it off by a 4 digit passcode. If there would be a fire the device would detect the high noise by the radar that is set up on the outside of the door. If sound is detected it will unlock all doors and windows allowing for a quick exit.”

Ruszkowski, along with the other seniors in the class including myself, have enjoyed the many labs, experiments, and experiences (and lack thereof due to Covid).