A flash of inspiration is what gave 15-year-old Ella Yardley an idea that was so clever it would win her a trip to the Questacon Invention Convention.
This is her prize-winning submission:
a. Tell us about an idea for an invention. What would it do? How would it work?
My proposal for this application is improving the Vagus Nerve Stimulation or responsive brain stimulation technology for Epilepsy by incorporating the technology used in the Dexcom monitoring system for Diabetes.
The technology would involve an additional implant or modification to the existing implant and a specialised app developed specifically for the implant. The implant itself would need to be inserted into the skull or the base of the neck connecting to the vagus nerve.
The implant itself would be relatively large due to the addition of this new technology as well as the original vagus nerve stimulation or responsive brain simulation technology. It would alert those diagnosed with epilepsy or affected by seizures of an impending seizure. It would work by transmitting the electrical signals collected by the implant and sending a notification or alert to a smartphone or other device.
The responsive brain simulation technology is implemented for those who cannot use medication or receive surgery due to the severity of their condition so in turn the technology must be cutting edge and the information received must be accurate. The Dexcom monitoring system is similar to this idea as a small implant measures glucose levels and updates the individual on their levels and whether they need to use their pump or inject insulin.
b. What problem does your idea address? Who would use your idea and how would it benefit them?
My idea addresses the problems of epilepsy physically as well as the adjustment of lifestyle that individuals need to undertake following their diagnosis. Using this idea, the warning would allow individuals to prepare for a seizure by finding a safe place or by ingesting medication.
Those with epilepsy or those who have frequent seizures would find this technology extremely beneficial as they would be able to manage their condition more efficiently. The implant also would allow them to understand their condition better as well as become more aware of potential warning signs leading up to a seizure. Implementing this technology is vital for epilepsy to become an easily manageable condition.
c. How would you prototype your idea? What equipment/materials/technology/skills might help?
This idea could be prototyped by creating multiple design ideas using titanium or other medically approved implant material. The final design would be chosen based on practicality or size.
If the implant is smaller, it will be less invasive for the patient. The implant must be able to send signals to an electronic device which is why multiple test runs must take place using the technology.
The app which accompanies the implant will need to have multiple beta versions in order to maximise accuracy and speed in which the information downloads from the implant. Professionals including app developers, brain medical specialists, epilepsy and seizure sufferers and surgeons will need to be consulted when designing and if this technology is implemented, ensuring it runs smoothly and is as cost effective as possible.
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