Crohn's and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
What is Crohn's Disease & IBD?
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a chronic condition that affects the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It is a combination of two conditions: Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, and is commonly distinguished by active inflammation of the GI tract which affects the patient’s ability to maintain a stable daily life. Common symptoms exhibited by IBD patients include diarrhea, fatigue, abdominal pain, and even joint pain.
If IBD is left untreated, it may lead to serious health concerns such as damage to the intestinal lining through the formation of peptide ulcers (stomach and duodenal), abscesses, and fistulas and open patients to a higher risk of developing colon cancer.
IBD affects more than 4.9 million people worldwide in 2019 (Wang et al., 2019). In Canada, IBD affects more than 320,000 people and is expected to grow to 470,000 people by 2035 (Hayatullah Amanat, 2023). Currently, there is no cure for IBD and Crohn’s disease, but there has been research for reducing the symptoms of these illnesses. Many of the current solutions are invasive, though lately, the current direction is focused on developing non-invasive devices that people can use at home.
IBD/Crohn’s Disease Monitoring and Proactive Flare-up Prediction System
Patients with Crohn’s Disease may experience a flare-up where they do not experience symptoms for some time before symptoms reappear and thus, indicate that there is active inflammation occurring. Furthermore, 54 to 78% of CD patients undergo a flare-up during the first 18-24 months after diagnosis (Hendrickson et al., 2002). Therefore, patients must monitor their symptoms for a possible flare-up and receive appropriate medical help before their symptoms worsen. Even after treatment, patients typically have a high chance of flare-up. Relapse often occurs several months after treatment, with women usually having a shorter relapse time than men, but sometimes symptoms are not noticeable and individuals may have been experiencing weeks of relapse before receiving treatment.
Our research involves creating a medical device that constantly monitors a patient's vitals for signs of an IBD/Crohn’s Disease flare-up to help prevent further exacerbation of the condition.
It is important to monitor these conditions, as it is hard to indicate when the individual’s health will deteriorate even more.The nature of a chronic condition implies that no silver bullet exists against said condition , instead treatments to reduce the symptoms and pain can be conducted to help the patient have a more comfortable life. Some additional aspects of our device that will improve user experience are, having the device be non-invasive as well as portability to allow people to monitor their conditions comfortably anywhere, and receive instant feedback in real time.
ASTREA: Automated Sensing Technology for Relapse Evaluation and Assessment
In our design, we will address current solution shortcomings by developing a solution that captures the data and is transmitted in real-time while also providing a portable, non-invasive alternative to enhance patient convenience. A device that gives real-time data will allow users to get instant feedback on their medical considerations without always seeing medical personnel. Our intended design is a medical device that would be equipped with various sensors that would enable the user to monitor their vitals.
Moreover, we intend to build and train a Machine Learning model to predict the probability of a flare-up occurring based on the patient’s vital signs, enabling users to take proactive measures for flare-up control. The machine learning model will notify the risk of relapse level through an app, where users can keep track of all the monitoring that has been completed.
It's important to note that our information is not a diagnosis, but rather a suggestion based on our data analysis. Users have the freedom to decide what they want to do with this information. If one wants confirmation, they should see medical personnel and get tested.
We are actively recruiting for this project!
Interested in joining the team?
Our team is actively hiring for several roles including Research Associate, Electrical technologist, Mechanical technologist and Software Developer. We accept highly driven and committed individuals who are interested in learning about the medical device design process and are willing to step outside their comfort to explore the realm of engineering to make an impact!