Master of Engineering students to present a new obstetric forceps design at national showcase

4/11/2021 Huan Song

M.Eng. students Brinda Nagaraj, Jackie O'Connor and Sasu Tuladhar created a new design for obstetric forceps using soft robotics techniques to make the delivery process safer and easier for mothers and babies.

Written by Huan Song

Forceps design
Forceps design

Three bioengineering Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) students, Brinda Nagaraj, Jackie O'Connor and Sasu Tuladhar will be presenting their design "Silicone Fingertip Delivery Forceps" at the Design of Medical Devices Student Design Showcase on April 13, 2021. They have created this design as part of their final paper and project in BIOE 598, Soft Robotics taught by bioengineering professor Holly Golecki

"I’m proud of Brinda, Jackie and Sasu for not only overcoming the challenges faced by all students in the Fall 2020 semester but for having their work recognized at a national conference! Well done, team," said Golecki. 

Currently, assisted delivery of babies by forceps or vacuum is done in about 3% of vaginal deliveries in the US. The current design for obstetrics includes many health risks for women giving birth and their babies. Some risks for the mother caused by forceps include tears, short-term or long-term incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and uterine rupture. Additional risks for the baby include minor facial injuries, eye trauma, skull fracture, and seizures. The team created an updated design for obstetric forceps using soft robotics techniques to fill a need for innovation in obstetrics that can make the delivery process safer and easier for everyone involved. 

Students learned about different materials and their medical applications as part of BIOE 598 and saw that incorporating silicone in forceps design could make a significant difference in the outcome of a difficult delivery. 

Their new design incorporates more gentle and customizable forceps by implementing silicone Shape Deposition Manufacturing (SDM) fingers as the branches of the forceps. This design also allows for traction to safely pull out babies. The SDMs should also be able to adjust to different head sizes of babes and grip the baby around the mandible instead of the sides of the face. 

"Professor Golecki’s class and the M.Eng. program has shown me the magical world that exists at the interface of biology and technology or engineering," said Nagaraj. Another team member, O'Connor said, "The M.Eng. Bioinstrumentation program has provided me with a new perspective of medical products. By focusing on regulations and management, I have learned a lot that will help me be successful in this field." 

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This story was published April 11, 2021.