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Reducing Injury to Health Care Workers

Research is one of 2 CSU projects to receive $100K grants

Reducing Injury to Health Care Workers

The total cost of workplace lower back injuries in the US alone exceeds $100 billion per year. In addition, rates of musculoskeletal injuries for state tested nursing aids were more than seven times as high as the average for all workers. To reduce the incidence of injury and decrease workers compensation costs, Dr. Wenbing Zhao, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Cleveland State University, is developing a computer vision based motion tracking technology to improve compliance to best practices in patient handling.

The project is one of two research efforts being conducted at CSU which have each been awarded $100,000 technology acceleration grants by the TeCK Fund, a joint technology commercialization and startup fund managed by CSU and Kent State University and funded in part by the state of Ohio.

The system can detect risky postures made by an STNA during patient handling and provides real time feedback while protecting the privacy of patients, which is important to conform to HIPPA regulations. In addition, the data collected can be used by managers to improve overall safety and training in health care systems across the state.   

“We have been working with multiple nursing homes and the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation to conduct initial tests of the technology, and this grant will greatly enhance our ability to create next generation prototypes and eventually commercialize the system,” says Dr. Zhao.

“The TeCK Fund identifies promising research that can have significant real world benefits and works with researchers to move the technology from the laboratory to the marketplace,” adds Jerzy Sawicki, vice president for research at CSU. “Dr. Zhao’s work is a perfect example of the types of ‘game changing’ innovations we hope to advance through this initiative.”

The second TeCK Fund award went to Dr. Moo-Yeal Lee, an assistant professor of chemical and biomedical engineering at CSU, who has developed robotic, high-precision, cell printing technology which allows for the generation of testable human tissues in a laboratory environment. The innovation could increase the accuracy of toxicity testing and drastically reduce the associated costs.

The TeCk Fund, developed with funding from the Ohio Third Frontier Commission, was created in 2017. It accepts applications from faculty teams investigating opportunities to commercialize research and also assists in connecting university researchers with potential business partners. Funding of up to $100,000 is available for individual technology validation projects.

“CSU and Kent State have unique research portfolios that provide significant opportunities for commercialization in a host of fields, from drug development to assistive devices to liquid crystals,” says Jack Kraszewski, director of the Technology Transfer Office at CSU. “Through the TeCK Fund we are able to accelerate the process for licensing technology while spurring the development of additional business opportunities with numerous companies across the state.”