Device to mechanically interrogate tissue and skin across research environments Relative changes in the tissue's response to mechanical deformation have been used for centuries to diagnose and classify diseases and often serve as surrogates for assessment of disease stage or progression. Pathological conditions such as arterial, venous, diabetic, lymphatic and collagen vascular disease are manifested in macroscopic and microscopic structural changes in the skin and soft tissues. Many devices have been designed to measure and describe the mechanical properties of skin in vivo and some devices have attained success in certain research environments. However, a remaining need exists for a device that is compatible with both lab-based and clinically-based research. Current device have not been proven useful for both types of research environments. In this project, we will develop a low-cost, portable technology, the mechanical interrogation of tissue and skin device (MITS), to quickly and accurately quantify the mechanical properties of the tissue and skin within a variety of healthcare research settings. Because skin and tissue research spans a wide range of clinical conditions, in this project we must focus on a few examples in order to develop MITS for versatile and wide ranging applications. Specifically, we will 1) Engineer the MITS hardware and software for multiple research applications and environments, 2) Model and optimize MITS performance using tissue phantoms, 3) Optimize MITS for use in animal (wound) and human (pressure ulcer and edematous limb) research utilizing an iterative design approach. The novelty of the MITS device is its small form factor, small area of interrogation, high bandwidth, and its readiness to utilize variable excitation patterns. While this project is focused on developing a versatile research instrument, the simplicity and small form factor of the MITS can form the basis for the development of a clinical diagnostic device. Since a design objective includes utility in a variety of clinical research environments, one can envision later development work to focus on clinical applications. The potential of having a clinical tool based upon the same technical principles of a research instrument would streamline the translation of research findings into clinical applications.
The proposed research will develop a low-cost technology that can quickly and accurately report mechanical properties of the tissue and skin. This technology will help healthcare researchers in a variety of research settings in which pathological conditions, such as arterial, venous, diabetic, lymphatic and collagen vascular disease, are manifested in macroscopic and microscopic structural changes in the skin and soft tissues.