Dysphagia Straw

Team Leader

Team Members

Michael Calgi

Biomedical Engineering

mpc8vu@virginia.edu

Graduates: May, 2019

Elayna Render

Jen Marchibroda

Michael Hughes

​Connor McKenchnie

Nikita Sivakumar

Sarah Zagorin 

Project Timeline

  • Analyze the feedback from study to determine the benefits and drawbacks of current technology to determine the necessary improvements.

  • Begin designing in order to maximize the efficacy of the new device.

  • Create prototype using a variety of technologies available at UVA and test for effectiveness.

Background

The EGG Dysphagia Straw Design Team aims to address the issue of dysphagia, which is medically defined as difficulty swallowing both liquids and solid food. An extensive array of diseases are characterized by symptoms of dysphagia, including neurological disorders and head and neck cancers. The large number of conditions that cause dysphagia make this condition relevant, yet difficult to treat. Our design team’s objective is to offer a comprehensive solution to ease the discomfort dysphagia patients feel while swallowing and allow them to intake liquids without incident.


A device that is currently on the market to ease discomfort in dysphagic patients is SafeStraw. This is a metered drinking device that seeks to decrease aspiration by decreasing the amount of liquid a patient can intake at once. Since SafeStraw has not been widely used by dysphagic patients, the undergraduate team has begun a study at the UVA Hospital that involves both the SafeStraw and a conventional hospital straw that will be provided to the patient and used in order to complete a comparison study. Based on the results from the study, the team will create a new technology in hopes to improve the overall quality and safety of drinking for dysphagic patients.

Accomplishments

  • Previously modeled and tested various prototype designs for specialized cups and straws that improve patients' abilities to intake liquids.

  • Began a research study that is now IRB-HSR approved, to test the efficacy of current technology at alleviating dysphagic patients within the UVA hospital.​

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