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UBC and Praxis Spinal Cord Institute Partner To Expand Canada’s First Biomedical Design Program

November 15, Vancouver, BC – Today, Praxis Spinal Cord Institute and UBC’s School of Biomedical Engineering announced a partnership to expand Engineers in Scrubs (EiS), the School’s flagship program in biomedical design. EiS trains some of Canada’s most talented biomedical engineering students to work directly with patients to solve problems that will improve outcomes for those with chronic and costly health conditions, such as spinal cord injuries.

This announcement comes following a successful pilot year in 2018. The partnership was announced at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre by Praxis Spinal Cord Institute’s CEO, Bill Barrable, UBC School of Biomedical Engineering’s Founding Director, Dr. Peter Zandstra and UBC Faculty of Medicine’s Dean, Dr. Dermot Kelleher. The Institute’s Consumer Engagement Lead, John Chernesky, who worked directly with students in the EiS program, also gave insights on how innovations that emerge from this program can directly benefit the SCI community.

“Our partnership with the School of Biomedical Engineering personifies how we are bridging the gap between problem and solution. Our goal for this partnership is to launch the next generation of biomedical innovators and entrepreneurs in BC.”

– Bill Barrable, CEO Praxis Spinal Cord Institute

Following the talks, students from the program were on hand to provide demonstrations of their innovative projects, including:

  • Sports grip assist – athletes with limited hand function currently use duct tape to hold their rackets or hockey sticks in place. This malleable, customizable, molded mitten improves their grip on sporting equipment.
  • Low cost traction table – an intra-operative device that enables orthopaedic surgeons in lower to middle income countries to access the same functionality as a full traction table that is the standard of care in high-income countries to realign lower extremity fractures.
  • Low cost tourniquet – many hospitals in lower to middle income countries cannot afford tourniquets and resort to crude devices such as tire inner tubes, which are difficult to control and therefore dangerous. This safe, low-cost, and reusable tourniquet provides a controlled way to prevent blood from entering the surgical field and reduce intraoperative blood loss.
  • Accessible zipper – a magnetic zipper for those with dexterity challenges. Zippers require a grasping capability that many people, including those with SCI don’t have.

Since 2016, the Canadian government has invested more than $10 billion annually in science and research. By leading the establishment of Canada’s first program in biomedical design with a focus on SCI, Praxis and UBC are supporting the next generation of biomedical innovators and entrepreneurs.

Media coverage:

Seatbelts and hockey gloves among innovations for Canada’s first university biomedical design program, Vancouver Sun (online)

New inventions help people with spinal cord injuries, CTV Vancouver

UBC collaborates with Praxis to expand biomedical design projects, Sing Tao

Biomedical design program, Fairchild TV

Biomedical breakthroughs in Vancouver, City News