Design of an Infant Restraint System

Photo of Jonathan Brown, Andrew Pasternak and Michael Tan Students: Jonathan Brown, Andrew Pasternak and Michael Tan

Sponsor: International Biomedical

Date: Fall 2008

Requirements:
One of the most important requirements for the restraint system is to protect the infant in the event of a crash or a sudden stop. The restraint therefore must absorb outside forces that the transport incubator encounters. The system must be easy to adjust for a variety of baby sizes weighing between 500 grams and 5 kilograms. The restraint system msut not interfere with the medical equipment that is attached to the infant. Many premature infants have several tubes connected to their bodies at all times. These tubes might be attached to their mouths to help them breathe, or to other locations, including the chest, navel, ribs or feet. The restraint system must be easy to attach inside the incubator without removing the large, plastic shell, since removing the cover off for any amount of time exposes the infant to the environment outside of the incubator. The attachment operation should require no more than 60 seconds through the existing hand access slots in the incubator top.

Problem:
Premature birth is a growing problem in the United States, affecting roughly 500,000 babies a year. These infants need incubators because their organs are not yet fully developed, and they are much more susceptible to diseases and infections. Since these infants depend on incubators to survive, they cannot be removed from them even during transport. The focus of this project is the design of a restraint system to keep these infants safe during transport, with a specific focus on protecting these infants in the event of an abrupt stop or accident.

Solution:
The team prototyped several new and unique solutions to this design problem. One design uses side pads that do not interfere with the medical equipment connected to the infant. Since tubing is commonly connected to the infant's mouth and torso, this design restraint that leaves this area open, while providing nurses and technicians a clear view of the infant's body. The team also conceived of an inflatable harness that is easily adjusted to a wide range of baby sizes, while also safely securing these infants during transport. The pump-up harness also enables the nurses and technicians to clearly see the chest and body of the infant. While this design does have a potential for user error, it could be safely implemented with the correct amount of training and safety checks.

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