The Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department is excited to announce that a team of researchers led by Professor Soheil Ghiasi has been awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to research and develop technology for non-invasive bladder volume sensing. Professor Ghiasi will lead a cross-disciplinary group of investigators, including Dr. Eric A. Kurzrock (UC Davis School of Medicine) and Professor Lifeng Lai (UC Davis ECE), who aim to investigate, build and validate a non-invasive wearable device that will be worn by patients who have lost bladder fill sensation due to spinal cord injury (SCI). The team plans to investigate a number of sensing modalities, ranging from ultrasound to near-infrared spectroscopy, and to develop energy-aware signal processing and machine learning techniques that would yield an accurate estimate of one’s bladder fill state from noisy measurements.
Most SCI patients express that continence is one of their most pressing concerns, as it impedes social activities and negatively impacts quality of life. Currently, the standard of care for such patients is to periodically use a catheter 4 to 6 times a day, sometimes by a caregiver, to empty their bladders. “Many SCI patients tend to have limited mobility, so making a trip to the bathroom to place a catheter involves some work. Sometimes they go, and they find that the bladder is not full enough; or sometimes they don't make it in time and they have an accident. Continence is a big issue for this population. What the device aims to do is to give SCI patients a timely alert, so they can plan bathroom trips only when necessary and avoid incontinence. In some sense, the goal is to restore the sense of bladder fullness for such patients,” said Prof. Ghiasi.
With the NSF’s mission to, “promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense; and for other purposes. NSF envisions a nation that capitalizes on new concepts in science and engineering and provides global leadership in advancing research and education,” the team’s activities embody the mission as they dedicate their time to this project.
Interview Conducted by Christopher G. Gonzalez