The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project is the development of a new device to take accurate measures of pelvic floor strength to provide with physicians with a reliable and repeatable assessment of pelvic floor health. One in every four women in the US will experience a pelvic floor disorder in their lifetime. Physicians still rely on digital palpation, a finger-squeeze test, to assess the pelvic floor, which has marginal clinical reliability. This device can detect small changes in pelvic floor strength and help physicians diagnose a pelvic floor disorder before symptoms arise. This project will not only focus on the development of this diagnostic device, but also begin assessing the need and commercial opportunity for other products focused on pelvic floor care and rehabilitation. Pelvic health is a largely underserved market and has only recently gained attention through the commercialization of several mobile health training aids.

This I-Corps project is to explore the development of a vaginal dynamometer, based on a reusable speculum coupled with a removable sensor to assess pelvic floor strength. The results from this device showed that a removable sensor design provides accurate results while reducing the cost-per-use to an acceptable level for routine use. The major limiting factor of current pelvic floor assessment technologies is the cost of use. Perineometers, ultrasound, and MRI are prohibitively costly for routine use in regular gynecologic checkups. The removable sensor design allows the patient-contacting portion of the device to undergo standard reprocessing protocols, such as autoclave, while the fragile sensor and electronics are removed and reused. We believe that such a design would become accessible for routine gynecologic use and could become a vital sign of pelvic health, much like blood pressure is for cardiovascular health.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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University of Utah
Salt Lake City
United States
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