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Student-Built Walker to Help Pediatric Patients Get Moving

An undergraduate student design team from the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at The Johns Hopkins University is developing a walker designed to transport multiple medical devices connected to a patient so patients can get up and moving as quickly as possible.

The culture change toward early mobility for patients in pediatric intensive care units first originated at The Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in 2013, when Sapna Kudchadkar and a team of nurses, therapists and other stakeholders came together to create the PICU Up! protocol. In 2017, Kudchadkar, an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine, as well as director of the Johns Hopkins PICU Clinical Research Program, approached the BME design team course instructors about the project.

“We wanted a contraption where you could put all of the equipment in the same place and move everything as one unit,” Kudchadkar says.

The team came up with AmbuMate, a walker that makes it easier to transport multiple medical devices hooked to the patient, facilitating ambulation in the PICU. It provides benefits to patients and caregivers, such as support for patient fatigue and wire and tube management to make the process less chaotic. The AmbuMate’s features will also reduce the setup time needed for ambulation compared with its adult ICU competitors.

Patients often need the assistance of up to five nurses and therapists to help drag large monitors and medical devices along, says Nolan Benner, a senior studying biomedical engineering and the design team leader. “We saw an opportunity to make that process a little easier,” Benner says.

The Johns Hopkins student design team hopes to market its device to PICUs that are adopting Kudchadkar’s PICU Up! program.

The team, which also includes Amna Ali, Talia Kirschbaum, Kriti Jindal, Elizabeth Morgan, Kavya Anjur and Shreya Narayan, exhibited the AmbuMate at the university’s annual Whiting School of Engineering Design Day on May 8.

Read the full Johns Hopkins University news release: Souped-up Walker to Help Get Pediatric ICU Patients on Their Feet

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