Today, surgeons face many limitations when it comes to helping a patient who suffers from a severe craniofacial injury, or an injury pertaining to the skull and the face. Most often a result of cancer or war-related circumstances, the injury is both psychologically and physically damaging. Read more in this Discovery.
Credit: Hanlon, Beckman ITG, University of Illinois
Suncica "Sunny" Canic, a University of Houston mathematician, uses computer models to study the strengths and weaknesses of different stent structures. Her work could help manufacturers optimize stent design and help doctors choose the right stents for their patients, ultimately improving patient outcomes. Read more in this Discovery.
Credit: Suncica Canic, Mate Kosor and Josip Tambaca; University of Houston and University of Zagreb
The mission of the Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation in NSF's Directorate for Engineering is to fund fundamental research and education in support of the foundation's strategic goals directed at advances in the disciplines of civil, mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering, and materials design. In addition, the division has a focus on the reduction of risks and damage resulting from earthquakes and other natural and technological hazards.
Plastic surgeons are turning to mathematics to take the guesswork out of efforts to ensure that live tissue segments that are selected to restore damaged body parts will have enough blood and oxygen to survive the surgical transfer.
June 17, 2013
Medicine and Engineering Join Forces to Restore Disfigured Faces
Mathematical formulas help create facial structures for people with disfiguring injuries
Patients who have suffered devastating facial injuries sometimes go to great lengths to hide themselves from public view. "I've had patients come to me wearing motorcycle helmets, with the visor pulled down," says Michael Miller, chair of plastic surgery at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center. "I remember one patient who came to see me wearing a beekeeper hat, with a wide brim and the veil pulled over her face. This is the only way she would go out in public. So, early on in my career, I became very interested in finding better ways to restore a normal appearance and function for people."
And, Miller has always had an interest in engineering, as well as medicine. "There's a tremendous overlap between restorative surgery and engineering because both professions are problem solvers," he says.
One state away, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, civil and mechanical engineer Glaucio Paulino saw the possibilities of combining engineering and medical skills to tackle the complex challenge of facial reconstruction.
With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Miller and Paulino are now working together, using technology called "topology optimization" to one-day rebuild faces, and lives!
"This research collaboration between a solid mechanician and a clinician illustrates the transformative advances that are achievable at the intersection of the engineering and physical sciences with the life sciences, including biomedicine," says Clark Cooper, program director for materials and surface engineering within the NSF's Directorate for Engineering.
"In particular, this example illustrates the tremendous human good that results from the application of engineering principles and approaches to facial reconstruction for the repair of damage caused by injury and disease, yielding higher fidelity and more robust facial features," says Cooper.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.