In the recent LS&A Art as Science competition, two Stamps students won top honors: Sidney Krandall was awarded the Grand Prize for an original (and highly practical) concept design, developed to help patients strengthen their hand muscles outside of a clinical setting; and Stephanie O’Neil was awarded Best in Digital Rendering for her 3D model of a malaria parasite.
The Science as Art competition, sponsored by the Science Learning Center, challenges students to consider the inherent beauty in science and scientific concepts. This year, students from across campus responded with paintings, drawings, 3D models, and photography expressing medical science, engineering, astronomy, and more.
Sidney Krandall: Progressive Resistance Exercise (PRE) Design Concept
Two years ago I began volunteer work at the Ann Arbor VA Hospital where I worked closely with patients in occupational therapy (OT), many of whom were struggling with the dexterity of their hands. I became particularly interested in a set of patients who, due to issues such as radial nerve injury, lacked the strength to open their hand at all. Patients struggling with issues involving hand dexterity are likely to require daily assistance, and often face diminished quality of life. While therapist’s work with many of these patients to re-educate the muscles involved in abduction of the phalanges, many patients instead are given a bulky fin-like splint to force the hand open so it may be used. These splints however are reminiscent of a wicked issue in the United States healthcare ideology: the emphasis on quick solutions as opposed to quality solutions. After working with the OT patients I began designing a series of concepts to address hand dexterity so patients can recover daily autonomy, and quality of life. The PRE Design concept submitted for this competition is one of those designs.
The PRE concept was developed so that patients who need to strengthen muscles involved in hand abduction would be able to do so outside of the clinical setting. Often, in-house patients voiced interest in practicing therapies on their own time to reduce the number of clinical visits and speed up recovery. For patients who are not in-house for treatment, this could mean less money spent on travel and less time away from work. The PRE concept is designed to be made of thermoplastic, foam, and weighted Velcro. The body of the design has two parts that create a splint to keep the wrist comfortable and secure while patients practice their exercise. The exercise itself involves repetition of opening and closing the hand, or individual fingers. It is important that the wrist be kept in a neutral position to ensure it is not assisting the abduction of the phalanges. Debilitation of wrist movement is promised by the ball like form seen in the palm and is part of the anterior portion of the splint. On the phalanges themselves, this PRE design concept demonstrates weighted sleeves that might be slipped onto each finger and secured with Velcro. These sleeves can be graduated to prevent the patient from reaching a plateau. Additionally, if only specific phalanges need treatment, this design allows for customization as the five sleeves are designed to be five separate entities. The concept drawing itself was produced using pen and ink on paper, and was then scanned into and labeled in Adobe Photoshop.
Stephanie O’Neil: Malarial Infection as a Digital Sculpture
Malaria is a widespread human disease caused by a parasite. The transmission of the parasite into the blood stream is initiated when an infected pregnant female mosquito feeds on human blood. According to the 2013 World Health Organization’s annual report on Malaria, there has been a decline in the disease worldwide due largely to preventive measures such as controlling mosquito population. However, the disease is still rampant in the developing world. In 2012, there were around 207 million cases of malaria, and 627,000 deaths that were a result of infection. It is estimated that 3.4 million people worldwide are at risk for contracting the parasite. Malaria is a rigorous and highly evolved parasite that lives half its life in the human bloodstream and the other half in the Mosquito’s digestive system. It is crucial to understand each stage of the infection thoroughly in order to effectively treat the disease. A form of the Plasmodium falciburm parasite, called sporozoites inhabit the pregnant female mosquito’s salivary gland, so when she feeds on a human the sporozoites enter the blood stream of the human. Sporozoites first go to liver cells where they lay dormant for 5 – 16 days during which time merzoites are being rapidly produced within liver cells. Then the liver cells lyse, and the merozoites adhere to red blood cells. After parasitic invasion, the infected red blood cell undergoes three structural stages of infection. The parasite incubated inside red blood cells after this, the final stage called the schizont stage occurs. Here, the parasite reproduces asexually to form between 16 and 32 daughter merozoites. After this point, increased internal pressure causes the red blood cell to burst open. The freed merzoites can move through the bloodstream and attach to other red blood cells. This harmful process of asexual reproduction occurs repeatedly for 1 – 3 days around the 15th-20th day after initial infection. It is often in this time that the symptoms of Malaria begin to manifest, especially fevers.