Open Innovation Challenge Yields a New Way to Diagnose Pain Intensity

Published Feb-26-19

A pain detecting device to more accurately diagnose the pain intensity a patient is experiencing.

Cornell University, United States

The Story:

Open Innovation Challenge Yields a New Way to Diagnose Pain Intensity The sensation of pain involves a complex set of signals between the nerves, spinal cord and brain. And we all feel it differently. Whether pain is chronic, piercing, throbbing or aching it is difficult to describe and impossible to see. This presents doctors with a problem during diagnosis because they are unable to know exactly how much something may hurt.

A patient may describe how they feel, but this is hardly an accurate measurement of the intensity of the pain they are experiencing. But help may soon be at hand thanks to the inventive genius of 17-year-old Mahum Siddiqi who along with several others designed a device to detect the actual pain level of a patient during a diagnosis.

“We need to design a system where patients are looked at as a whole, and doctors are able to know for sure how much pain a patient is experiencing instead of just their personal description/perception of their own pain,” said Mahum Siddiqi, an undergraduate student and spokesperson for the winning team.

“It's incredibly upsetting and problematic how hypothetical the concept of pain diagnostics is. Doctors have no way of knowing how little or how much pain someone is truly experiencing when they go in to be diagnosed,” she continued.

Winning Innovation

The team's innovation was the winner of the inaugural “Digital Transformation Hackathon! Changing Business, Changing Education, Changing Lives” at Cornell University in November 2018. The event was held over 36 hours and its purpose was to help future leaders in business, education, health, hospitality and design develop novel, interdisciplinary and sustainable solutions to meet current and future challenges. Students from any major, degree and background were invited to take part.

Cornell University Hackathons

The open innovation competition took advantage of the numerous benefits of working with interdisciplinary teams. For example, how they broaden perspectives on issues and foster diverse approaches to solving problems as participants build on each other's expertise to achieve shared goals.

“A hackathon celebrates hacking in its most positive context – using minimal resources and maximum brainpower to create outside-the-box solutions (‘hacks’),” Cornell University’s hackathon website.

Cornell is a big fan of hackathons, hosting several per year covering a range of topics such as healthcare, banking and virtual reality.

Pain Innovation

There are few details available about the pain detecting device, but it will use neurological activity occurring in a person's brain to help doctors better determine someone's pain levels.

The winning team is liaising with several companies including Microsoft to develop a prototype of their innovation. Team members will work on it on the side while they are completing their studies.

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