Necessity + Opportunity = Driven Innovative Minds

August 21, 2019

Michael Peters is a 4th year medical school student at the University of British Columbia and an inspired innovator with personal insight and motivation to improve the lives of those struggling with physical challenges.

The prototype Michael designed and submitted to the 3D print challenge is a solution to a problem that has hit him close to home. 

Michael’s inspiration for his design is his mother who has the progressively debilitating disease, ALS.   Among other challenges that the disease gradually introduced to her daily life, Michael’s mother became unable to stabilize her head which further caused uncomfortable neck spasms. Traditionally this issue is solved with a wheelchair headrest, but a suitable neck device for those individuals not yet wheelchair bound, wasn’t readily available.

Michaels prototype features a chin support that can be easily designed to fit a specific patient. It is supported from the upper chest, the chin portion follows the curvature of the patient's mandible, with vertical supports running between the jaw and the base which rests on the chest.

“This process with Joule has helped me advance my idea quickly through to the prototype stage, something that would have taken me months if not years to do.” says Peters.

With additional iterations of the design and thorough product testing, a more refined product could be developed and brought to market.

Michael envisions the neck brace effectively implemented in patient care facilities and used by patients who would not normally have the financial means to purchase a custom-fitted device.  He strongly believes 3D printing is a viable way to produce cost-effective, lightweight neck supports which need to be custom-made to fit individual patients.

Michael has always believed in the saying “necessity is the mother of invention.” His own mother has inspired this innovation as well as his choice to practice medicine and make a difference in the health care field. 

Joule recognizes that there are many people working in the medical field who have inspired ideas of how tools or processes could be created or improved, but they simply don’t have the time or expertise to bring it to fruition.  This 3D print challenge allowed for rapid prototyping which gave participants a chance to progress past the idea stage.

It is wonderful to have an organization like Joule to guide and support me and others in the medical field through the innovation process – uncharted territory for many of us.” says Peters.

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