DMC met with the team at the Lurie Children’s Hospital to identify the very unique needs of the test facility for research and clinical work. The hospital was moving to a new location in downtown Chicago and had a fixed timeframe to design and build the new facility.
DMC collaborated with the clinicians and researchers to determine software and test requirements, which continued to evolve over the year of project development. DMC worked with the building architects to ensure the facility was built in a way that best integrated the test chamber for patient comfort, test operability, and nurse and doctor involvement. Considering that the patients are children, the comfort and inclusion of the patient's family was paramount.
The Thermoregulatory Test Chamber is designed to control the temperature of the patient's body to evaluate its ability to self-regulate. In this case, the chamber closes a temperature control loop to very slightly raise the core and skin temperature of the patient to test sweat response as a critical part of human body temperature regulation.
The system software spans three layers: the user interface written in LabVIEW for Windows, the chamber control and data collection in LabVIEW Real-Time, and the safety controls and low level operation in LabVIEW FPGA.
The system hardware uses infrared heating elements to generate heat energy, and temperature probes to monitor and record the patient's skin and core body temperature. This temperature control loop is performed on the NI CompactRIO device. Multiple safety mechanisms are in place to ensure patient safety and comfort.
DMC worked with the construction team and electrical contractors to deliver an electrical panel and field wiring instructions. DMC collaborated with the crews onsite in downtown Chicago to ensure smooth installation and testing. Post-installation, DMC also met with real patients in a clinical test environment.
In this process, we forged a deep relationship with the hospital staff, and we're continuing to work together to pioneer test methods and tools for autonomic medicine in pediatrics.
"By having this wonderful teamwork between an Engineering team and a Translational Medicine team, we were able to produce a product that gives us what we need to answer medical questions and improve healthcare," said Dr. Debra E. Weese-Mayer, Chief of the Center for Autonomic Medicine in Pediatrics and Professor of Pediatrics for Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.
The test chamber has proven to be a huge success for the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital for Chicago. They are testing patients monthly and have made numerous useful diagnoses for the betterment of pediatric health worldwide.
To learn more about the success of this project, watch this brief video.