Designing unique solutions for children

Children are not small adults. That means the methods, technologies and medicine used to treat older individuals don’t often translate to our smallest patients. How do we, in the health care industry, design solutions that meet the unique needs of minds and bodies that are constantly growing and changing?

Health care worker assisting child with special needs

The Children’s Innovation Lab aims to make meaningful advances in how we care for our children both inside and outside of the hospital. As both a pediatrician and clinical informaticist, my mission is to bring the technical expertise of those within OSF Innovation together with pediatric health care specialists across the state and nation to create new ideas and turn them into a reality.

The Children’s Innovation Lab is a space that’s dedicated to designing the future of health care for children and their families. Working with those on the front lines of children’s health care, we expect to move the needle in the creation of solutions just for children.

Ideas in the works

In the six months since the lab’s founding, we have already made incredible progress towards building relationships and seeking new opportunities for innovation. We most recently received a grant from the Jump Applied Research for Community Health through Engineering and Simulation (ARCHES) program for one of our projects.

As part of this effort, we are building an advanced analytical model of predicted “hotspots” for pediatric under-immunization, which has worsened significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The model uses COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination data to create a heat map showing geographic areas where young people aren’t getting vaccinated. The goal is to optimize delivery of vaccination resources to reach those who need it most.

We are excited to announce we have finalized a formal partnership with Caterpillar to develop a smarter and more powerful way of understanding a child’s lung function while they are in the hospital – without the need for invasive procedures or radiation. Many groups are involved in different pieces of this project. This includes faculty and graduate students from Bradley University, highly specialized engineers at Caterpillar, biomedical engineers from Jump, participants of the Jump Simulation summer internship program and more!

In collaboration with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, we are also developing an augmented reality app to measure a child’s perception, cognition and motor function. This will help us detect concussions and other types of brain problems faster and more accurately. The platform, named “Flight Path,” engages a child in a neuro exam by having them use a mobile device to follow and capture a hummingbird as it flies around the room.

Movements made by the child will be automatically analyzed to look for any kind of impairment. The results from Flight Path are packaged into a 3D object called “Neuro DNA” which can be analyzed by doctors, and used in machine learning models to find new ways of automatically detecting neurocognitive impairments.

Partner with us 

There are so many other great projects just on the horizon. In fact, seven more grant proposals have recently been submitted and are all under consideration for funding.

Many of these involve addressing social and economic disparities at the community, county and state levels. Our underserved populations are the most vulnerable to hardship brought on by the pandemic. As a result, we must dedicate ourselves to creating solutions that reduce health care inequality.

We are excited to share our work in the months and years to come. If you are interested in learning more about the Children’s Innovation Lab, participating in certain aspects of the journey, or if you’d like to invest or partner, contact us today.

Categories: Augmented Reality (AR), Bradley University (BU), Innovation, Internships, Jump ARCHES, Neurology, OSF Innovation, Pediatrics, University of Illinois (U of I)