Undergraduate Research Program (URP)
I had suffered from severe neck pain due to the cervical disc herniation, but the common physical treatments such as cervical traction and extracorporeal shockwave therapy were not so effective to cure the herniated discs. Desperately pursuing a better solution, I invented a shape memory alloy (SMA)-actuated rehabilitation device to assist and induce neck extension movement for restoring the degenerative discs. The design intend was to help patients do the extension exercise while in supine position, taking a rest or sleeping, in order to enable longer duration of physical therapy than the current treatments. For this reason, this device is actuated by SMA wires instead of the electric motors to minimize the noise and vibration and thus operates smoothly and quietly. I also conducted a pilot study to evaluate clinical effect of the designed prototype using MRI. While referring to the previous studies, I found that their limited quantification methods had hindered them from obtaining comprehensive results on the intradiscal changes during the spinal extension. By refining the parameters for quantifying disc morphology from a mechanical point of view, I acquired meaningful evidence to explain the underlying mechanism for the therapeutic effects of cervical extension on the herniated discs.