Three Johnston County high school juniors recently built a concussion-detection robot that earned them a Top 5 finish in the 2013 National microMedic Contest.
Luke Pearson and William Xia, both of Corinth Holders High School, and Daniel Motley of Clayton High won $500.
The contest challenged entrants to use microcontrollers and sensors to design products for possible use in the health-care industry, medical-simulation training and the battlefield.
With help from their mentor and robotics coach, Richard Fincher of Raleigh, the team of Pearson, Xia and Motley created a device that can detect concussions in people who have suffered head impacts.
The task of creating their concussion detector was not an easy one, the team members said.
“We were so excited to have our medical device recognized by the judges,” Pearson said. “It was a lot of hard work. Sometimes it got frustrating, but we pulled it all together.”
Pearson, Xia and Motley named their team the LWD Robot Club; LWD represents their first names. Their inexpensive, portable device conducts a quick neurological assessment of someone who might have sustained a brain injury. It does this by giving the subject a series of tasks to perform and measuring their responses.
In all, the device takes less than three minutes to conduct its tests. The prototype can detect things like concussions in soldiers exposed to blast effects and in athletes who have suffered head impacts. Also, the device can detect impairment in suspected stroke victims and neurological impairment in scuba divers who might be suffering from decompression illness.
Pearson, Xia and Motley formed the LWD Robot Club in the summer of 2012 in an effort to further explore their interests in computer microcontrollers, robotics and computer software. Fincher serves as their adviser and mentor. The club, which meets two to three times a month, is currently at work on perfecting their web-based mobile-platform robot.
The National microMedic Contest is a project of the U.S. Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, the Carnegie Mellon Entertainment Technology Center and Parallax Inc. The 2013 winners will be recognized next month in San Francisco