For my Biomedical Engineering capstone project, I worked on a scoliosis simulator with Medtronic. My team and I created a physical simulator that modeled Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) and allowed Medtronic engineers to test new surgical instruments as well as surgeons to try out surgical techniques.

AIS currently affects 4% of adolescents in America, and those with spine curves greater than 45 degrees need surgical correction. With current technology, it is difficult to test new instrumentation or techniques for AIS surgery, since the only available option is cadaver testing. However, it is extremely hard to come by cadavers with such a high degree of scoliosis, so the simulator that our team created fills the gap in this area.

To create the model, our team went through iterations of prototypes and materials selection to create a tool that was mechanically and anatomically accurate in representing AIS. The model is also compatible with current Medtronic surgical tools, and has been tested by orthopedic surgeons for mechanical accuracy.

Ultimately, our model can improve surgical outcomes for AIS. The video below demonstrates our engineering process as well as the prototype in action.