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Jump Engineering helps baby avoid life-changing surgery

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Taylor Gohman, MD, was in his first year as a neonatology fellow at the OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois Medical Center when he was charged with treating a complex patient: a two-month baby who would stop breathing while sleeping.

“The infant’s mom, who was a nurse, had to stay awake through the night to administer rescue breaths,” said Dr. Gohman. “As a result, he was immediately admitted into our pediatric intensive care unit. He was then transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit to receive further care.”

If the child were older, Dr. Gohman and the clinical team he was working with could easily prescribe a BiLevel Positive Airway Pressure or BiPAP machine to help the baby breathe in and out through the night. However, there are no devices on the market for children of this age. The only other options to treat the infant required surgeries, such as a tracheotomy where a breathing tube is inserted into the child’s windpipe or placing a pacemaker within the diaphragm muscle to stimulate breathing.

“To avoid a life-changing operation, we enlisted the help of Jump Simulation engineers, who are part of OSF Innovation, because they specialize in designing and constructing patient-specific solutions to problems like this,” said Dr. Gohman. “If there was even a slight chance that we could establish an airway without having to do a tracheotomy, why not pursue that?”

A simple engineering solution

Jump engineer, Sister M. Pieta Keller took on the case, but she didn’t have to start from scratch.

“The mother of the infant purchased the smallest BiPAP mask she could find in hopes of avoiding surgery,” said Sister M. Pieta. “We met the family at the bedside and placed the breathing mask on the child to identify gaps in fit. It turns out the mask that goes on his nose wasn’t the issue. The strap that secures the mask in place was too large for him. We needed to make it smaller and tighter.”

With the parents’ permission, Sister took the BiPAP mask, cut down the strap and used a soldering iron to alter the equipment to the exact measurements needed to fit the child. Along the way, Dr. Gohman, a respiratory therapist and the parents collaborated to develop a treatment plan for the baby boy.

“The effort was minimal, but had the potential to make a huge impact,” said Sister M. Pieta. “Our next step was to get a quality and safety committee to sign off on our work as it wasn’t FDA approved.”

Over the course of a few days, a committee approved the use of the adapted device for the small baby.

“It was just such a gift because the family had already been through so much. They were away from home and their child was sick. To save the infant from a surgery with a couple hours of work was beautiful,” said Sister. “And being able to see the outcome of our work was a tremendous joy.”

For Dr. Gohman, he was excited to partner with Jump Engineering on this solution.

“Our collaborative work with the engineering team enabled us to change someone's life,” said Dr. Gohman. “Jump Engineering is a valuable tool I can tap into when something isn’t working for me or my patient.”

Leveraging engineering expertise

Giving clinicians and other Mission Partners the opportunity to partner with engineers can lead to creative solutions that augment care and improve the patient experience. That is why OSF Innovation has integrated this capability into its processes.

Beyond developing patient-specific solutions, Jump engineering designs task trainers, builds low-cost prototypes to test ideas and produces digital 3D models for surgical planning and education.

Learn more about what Jump Engineering can do here.

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