URI Students Develop Mechanical Wrist for Eastern Medicine Teaching

By: Tim Studebaker

Facebook: @TStudebakerABC6

Twitter: @TStudebakerABC6

Email: tstudebaker@abc6.com

WEST KINGSTON, R.I. – Here in the western world, pulse-taking is fairly simple, mainly revealing a patient’s heart rate.

URI Biomedical Engineering Student Ian Kanterman says, “When it comes to the eastern side, traditional Chinese medicine, they are using three points known as cun, guan, and chi on the wrist.”

Using those three points, Chinese doctors say medical staff can diagnose a number of issues by detecting up to 28 different pulse patterns.

Kanterman says, “The specialist can determine if someone is say pregnant, has liver disease, or just has an irregular heartbeat for instance.”

The practice has been around for a while.

URI Biomedical Engineering Professor Ying Sun says, “Traditional Chinese medicine is based on mainly experience accumulated over 2500 years, but that doesn’t mean we cannot apply the modern engineering, and technology, and science.”

New technology developed by URI biomedical engineering students aims to standardize the way doctors and clinicians learn the practice.

Kanterman says, “We used silicone gel to form a wrist and a fist and there are electromagnetic solenoids that push up and down.  They basically emulate a palpation when you’re feeling the pulse.”

The idea came from a veterinarian teaching Chinese pulse diagnosis.  She was having trouble finding examples of all 28 patterns to show her students.

Sun says, “There are some rarely occurring patterns that are important to diagnose specific diseases, but you can seldom find an example for that.”

Right now, the mechanical wrist is being used as a teaching tool, but with more testing, the team is hoping the technology can be marketed and spread.

©WLNE-TV / ABC6 2018