This semester-long, clinical immersion program has been framed to train biomedical engineering (BME) and industrial design (ID) students in recognizing and resolving the unmet needs of our Wounded Warriors and Veterans. While many active-duty service members and Veterans suffer from the same maladies as comparably- aged civilian population (e.g., heart disease, cancer, diabetes), they also have unique healthcare needs because of battlefield exposure. These needs extend to military healthcare providers, scientists, and engineers who are actively treating and learning from our wounded warriors to improve their quality-of-life. Therefore, we plan to provide BME and ID students a complementary education in biomedical needs identification (Aim 1) and place them with key opinion leaders in several Department of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics and laboratories (Aim 2). Specifically, our partner sites are the Salem VA Medical Center (SVAMC) and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC). A non-exhaustive list of events includes partaking in Grand Rounds, viewing patient participation in ongoing clinical studies within the fields of rehabilitation, oncology, podiatry, and kidney disease, and attending interactive Learning Forums on state-of-the art technologies related to traumatic brain injury, biomechanics, and regenerative medicine. Building on the innovative, design-based curriculum at Virginia Tech, needs identification teams will be comprised of both BME and ID students with junior standing. Jointly educating and combining the skillsets from these two groups will aid in extracting unforeseen needs from existing user-product-environment scenarios. For example, user-centered design analysis will be implemented to gain knowledge about a user's prior knowledge, life experiences, abilities, and level of cognition with similar products, while considering environmental influences and the types of hardware, software, and/or assistive technologies. The teams will plan and document their design research at the clinical sites to create a database of >25 needs with supporting information related to stakeholder impact, existing solutions, and market analysis. In addition to observing different clinical trials and research projects, the students will take advantage of volunteer opportunities to develop a sense of empathy and give back to the military community. At the conclusion of the program, students will prepare a grant proposal for a project idea that is well- suited to improve Wounded Warrior or Veteran healthcare for faculty review, approval, and appropriate resourcing. They will continue as collaborative teams and assume a leadership role in their ensuing Senior Design projects. The target is to present a functional prototype to a Veteran client or healthcare provider by the years' end. Continual feedback will be obtained from these customers/partners to ensure the product effectively addresses their needs. Ultimately, the program will prepare students to work effectively on multidisciplinary teams and communicate with a range of audiences. .
Comprehensive medical device design firms employ professionals with the broad range of expertise required to cover each stage of the product development lifecycle. This semester-long, clinical immersion program has been framed to train biomedical engineering (BME) and industrial design (ID) students in recognizing and resolving the unmet needs of our Wounded Warriors and Veterans. These students will continue as collaborative teams and assume a leadership role in their ensuing Senior Design projects that will result in a functional prototype to a Veteran client or healthcare provider.