Multiscale Systems won the sustainability challenge. Pictured are Communications Director Karen Tisdell, left, engineers Prajwal Bharadwaj and Shawn Aalto, CEO Jesse Silverberg and CTO Art Evans on remote. Not in the group is COO Pat Quinn.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Physical and pharmaceutical restraints have been used for years to prevent patients from pulling out critical tubes and monitors but those practices can also cause long-term injury.
"In days gone by, a nurse would heavily sedate you, but we now know that sedation causes more damage for you later, including delirium and dementia, as well as not being able to walk," said Dr. Marie Pavini, a critical care specialist at Rutland (Vt.) Regional Medical Center. "We're trying to keep folks awake these days, but that's pretty hard to do when patients are panicked from being tied down."
Even the ubiquitous padded wrist restraint causes problems, she said. "It looks soft and unobtrusive but this little bracelet can make you lose your mind and body."
Pavini, found of Healthy Designs, has come up with answer: Exersides. It's a clear tube that covers the but also allows the patient to move, keeps lines in place, and allows nurses to easily acces them through a door.
"It goes on both arms, is comfortable, allows nurses to do everything they need to do," she continued. "You can move every joint and all of your tubes and lines stay safe. It's bigger than the wrist restraint but larger ergonomic devices now replace our legacy devices."
The initial cost is higher than current restraints, Pavini said, but its benefits can be seen in a reduction of readmissions and positive outcomes that saves hospitals money in the long term. The prototype device is disposable but she anticipates a reusable device with a disposable soft kit that goes inside the shield for the hand to rest on.
A pilot study was done in Rutland and other trials are being conducted at larger medical centers. Pavini said Healthy Design is self-manufacturing at the moment with capacity to scale up in Rutland and Stowe, Vt., and is in talks with Sinicon Plastics in Dalton.
The invention has already garnered Pavini a National Institutes of Health award and, on Thursday, won her a $25,000 award in Lever's Berkshire Health Technology Challenge.
The grant was one of two $25,000 awards given out on Thursday during an afternoon Zoom presentation by four finalists in each category. Multiscale Systems of Worcester, led by Jesse Silverberg, won the Berkshire Sustainability Challenge for its innovations in lightweight materials for the trucking industry.
"Thank you for the teams that were part of this journey I think, well I mean, the root word competing is to strive together, and feel like that's what this has been," said Silverberg. "That we're striving together so I think I'll just keep it brief and say thank you and this is great."
Normally, the final pitches would have been made at a public event with presentations at the end and a chance to network. That couldn't happen because of the novel coronavirus, so the finalists did their mentoring with Lever and their presentations to judges over the Zoom platform.
"As you all could see the each presenter in each startup really did an amazing job," said Brent Filson, head of innovation for Lever, a startup and innovation accelerator. "They've progressed so much, and really endured a lot especially through this, you know, these last couple months with the social distancing laws. They really persevered.
"I was so thrilled to work with every single one of these startups. And despite who wins. We're going to be in touch with every single one of you and support you all the way."
Runners-up were Revital Therapeutics, led by by Drs. Andrew L'Huillier and Dr. Ling L'Huillier from Shelton, Conn., which is creating off-the-shelf tissue grafts from stem cells to treat a wide range of diseases and injuries; and Vader Nanotechnologies, a biotechnology company using directed evolution to create microorganisms and enzymes that break down plastics and chemicals such as PFOS, and led by biochemist and chemical engineer Trévon Gordon, data scientist Gordon Fleetwood, and software developer Victor Chu.
The other contestants were Ingaige Care, a digital therapeutic platform; CareGivingHQ, an app to help caregivers manage care; Aerospec Technologies, which uses drones to provide data to solar companies; and Camberline Technologies, which enables green communities to align their electricity demand to renewable power supplies.
Brittney Cappiello, last year's winner of the Berkshire Health Technology Challenge, made the announcement of this year's winner, Pavini.
The physical therapist also gave an update on her company, My Core Floor, which specializes in women's pelvic issues by customizing excercises and tracking habits. Her membership has grown greatly in recent months as she's worked on expanding her social media presence internationally, and she credited what she learned working with Lever in helping her grow both personally and professionally.
"Last year was a huge turning point for my business, and life-changing also for me as a person and as a business owner," she said. "They don't teach about business and entrepreneurship in physical therapy school so Lever really had to start with the basics with me, and the mentorship they provided me was really just huge for me to be able to grow my business."
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A tropical storm heading north up the Atlantic coast could bring more rain to the Berkshires over the weekend.
Dubbed "Fay," the storm began as a tropical depression off the coast of North Carolina midweek and formed late Thursday.
According to Accuweather, the storm has sustained winds of 60 mph and could bring 2 to 4 inches of rain over Western Mass and Southern Vermont from late Friday through Saturday morning.
"Fay will make landfall along the New Jersey coast during Friday afternoon," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist and Lead Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said. "Fay will be a mostly heavy rain producer but could still bring wind gusts of 50-60 mph along coastal areas of eastern Long Island and over southern coastal areas of New England."