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University Engineers Design Systems to Help Children With Special Needs

Kansas State University engineering students install sensors to monitor children with severe developmental disabilities while they sleep.

Kansas State University engineering students have created mattress and bed sensors that track breathing rates, heart rates, and movements of developmentally disabled children while they sleep.

Credit: Kansas State University

Kansas State University (KSU) researchers are using a U.S. National Science Foundation grant to develop technology designed to improve the health and quality of life for children with severe developmental disabilities.

The researchers are developing customized devices and software to help understand the needs of children, most of which have a primary diagnosis of autism. "The intent of this program is to pursue a specific design for a specific child when possible," says KSU professor Steven Warren, who is collaborating on the project with KSU professor Punit Prakash and Heartspring, a Wichita-based nonprofit organization that uses evidence-based and emerging best practices to serve students who often have multiple diagnoses. "This is research where you can add immediate benefit to these children's lives," Warren says.

As part of the project, the professors teach design courses in which students learn about bioinstrumentation and how to develop sensors and hardware to measure physiological signals. "All too often clinicians and teachers don't know what is possible and engineers don't know what is needed," says Heartspring CEO Gary Singleton. "When the two come together, there is an opportunity to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and to imagine new solutions to real-world problems."

From Kansas State University News
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