year in review 2018 Paperturn - Page 147



2018: A YEAR IN REVIEW | RESEARCH
EASY
SQUEEZY
A collaboration between biomedical
engineers and a clinician at UCT has led
to the design of an assistant device for
metered-dose asthma inhalers that will
improve ease of use for children and
the elderly.
attached to using these devices,
especially among children.
They developed a sleeve that is
easily slipped over a regular inhaler.
With its ‘bunny-ear’ design, the
device allows children and elderly
patients to activate the pump easily
using their whole hand.
The dosage counter problem was
solved by designing a ratchet-type
system.
“Stats show that 42% of kids don’t
want to carry their device with
them ... So, we’ve added cartoon
characters,” said Nair.
The Easy Squeezy design has
reached proof of concept and is
being refined. The next step is to
conduct a trial that validates use of
the device.
“We’d like to first do market
research at Red Cross Children’s
Hospital ... and grow it from there,”
said Beukes.
Metered-dose inhalers are commonly
prescribed for asthma, but they are
not ideal for patients who are not
strong enough to use them correctly.
Aptly named the Easy Squeezy,
the new device reduces the force
required to activate the pump.
Head of the Division of Asthma
and Allergy at the Red Cross
Children’s Hospital in Cape Town Dr
Michael Levin wondered if pressing
the pumps could be made easier.
He approached Professor Sudesh
Sivarasu, head of the Medical
Devices Lab in UCT’s Department of
Biomedical Engineering, with his idea.
Sivarasu identified two master’s
students to take on the project.
Giancarlo Beukes and Gokul Nair
were tasked with solving three
design challenges: reducing the
force required to activate the pump,
incorporating an adjustable dosage
counter, and combating the stigma
145

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