Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Made in Pittsburgh: 5 Great Ideas

Modern-day creation in Pittsburgh doesn’t just involve physical products; we also have a knack for hatching new ideas that can solve problems in innovative, unexpected ways. These locally based thinkers are applying big thoughts to bigger problems.



(page 1 of 5)

Sanna Gaspard
Rubitection

The Idea: To solve a longstanding health-care dilemma with cutting-edge technology.



photos by Douglas Duerring


 

Pressure injuries — previously known as pressure ulcers and commonly referred to as bedsores — are a surprisingly common affliction. The painful and often serious condition develops through a lack of movement; when continuous pressure is put on an area of the skin over time (as can occur when someone is immobile in a hospital bed), bedsores develop at the point of pressure.

Pressure injuries affect more than 2.5 million adults each year in the United States; one study of their prevalence determined nearly 2 percent of all adults admitted to hospitals will develop a bedsore.

Yet the most common method for detecting pressure injuries — the industry standard, to date — can be ineffective, especially on those with darker skin.

The “blanching test” is a rudimentary check to see if an area is the potential site of a bedsore: A caregiver presses gently on the skin. If it’s healthy, it should briefly turn white and then quickly return to its normal shade. If it’s unhealthy, it will stay white. Unfortunately, the darker the skin — regardless of race — the more difficult it is to detect a change in hue.

​Sanna Gaspard, Ph.D., became aware of the difficulties of pressure-injury detection (and the scope of the condition) while pursuing her doctorate in biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. “When I learned about the condition,” she says, “how prevalent it was — and also that it was preventable ... those factors really caught my attention.”
Furthermore, the lack of a reliable detection method came as a surprise. “I thought, ‘How useful could an approach be if it doesn’t work on a large segment of the population?’”

​Gaspard began exploring the problem while earning degrees from CMU (a master’s in 2005 and a doctorate in 2011); simultaneously, bedsores were thrust back into focus for hospital systems. After 2008, Medicare and Medicaid stopped reimbursing hospitals for a number of conditions developed after a patient was admitted, including falls and trauma, certain surgical-site infections — and pressure injuries. Suddenly, administrators were more eager than ever to dramatically reduce the number of bedsores developed at their facilities.

“[The public] hadn’t truly ... considered that it was preventable,” Gaspard says. “It was assumed that when you went to the hospital, if you were there for too long, you would develop a bedsore.” While it’s nearly impossible to catch every pressure injury before it develops, she explains, “There are places that have zero occurrence of bedsores.”

As with many conditions, early detection is the key to prevention; the blanching test, though, remained woefully ineffective. While pursuing her doctorate, Gaspard formed Rubitection, a startup aiming to develop a better way to detect the formation of pressure injuries, saving hospitals time and money — and, more importantly, saving patients the pain and potential complications that can arise.

The result is the Rubitect Assessment System, a handheld device in the late stages of development. A caregiver holds the probe against the surface of the skin in a potential problem area, and the device takes measurements related to skin health. Additional results, displayed on a companion app, can indicate whether a pressure injury is beginning to form (or is already present).

In essence, the Rubitect Assessment System performs the same function as the blanching test — with pinpoint accuracy and little risk of human error, regardless of the patient’s skin tone.

“Our advantage ... is having a system that is an extension of the clinical standard — so we’re not going to be asking them to do anything new,” Gaspard says. “We’re just asking them to use a better measurement tool to do the same thing they’ve been doing.”

A long-term goal, Gaspard says, is gradually establishing the Rubitect Assessment System as the clinical standard; in the meantime, Rubitection’s task is to further refine the device and demonstrate to hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities that it is the most cost-effective, accurate way to treat the problem. (A handful of competing devices are also under development, though none operate in the exact way that the Rubitect Assessment System does.)

And keeping the device cost-effective is not simply a matter of appealing to hospitals, Gaspard says; by developing a device that won’t be prohibitively expensive, the potential for the Rubitect Assessment System to prevent bedsores grows exponentially.

“Not just in hospitals, but also in the nursing home,” Gaspard says. “Not just in the U.S., but also through clinics [around the world] by supporting low-cost tools for providing better care.

“I selected this project as my Ph.D. work because I thought it was an area where technology could save a lot of lives.”

–– S.C.
 

Next: Making the growing rideshare industry even more efficient
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Peters Township Native Wins Silver Medal in Speed Skating

After swine flu kept him from competing in Sochi in 2014, short track speed skater John-Henry Krueger finally won a spot on the podium at the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

Perspectives: A Better Life

A former Pittsburgh television reporter recounts the lessons taught to him by his grandfather who spent more than four decades as a Pullman Porter.

Pittsburgh MultiStories: Phipps Legacy – The Fulton Building

With its distinctive seven-story archway, the Fulton Building (now the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel) remains a beloved Pittsburgh landmark.

Kick Back and Relax with a Baby Sloth

For $150 you can book an up-close hang out session with Vivien the two-toed sloth.

Jack Kerouac: Manager of the Pittsburgh Plymouths

In a league of his own making, the famous writer cast himself as the skipper of a (fantasy) Pittsburgh ball club.

Bucking the Trend: Gallagher’s Groovy Growing

Megan Gallagher is part of a small cadre of young farmers bucking demographic trends.

Meet the Woman bringing Dignity and Diversity to Twitter

As Twitter's vice president of intersectionality, culture and diversity, Candi Castleberry Singleton, who splits her time between Pittsburgh and San Francisco, works tirelessly to bring inclusion and respect to companies.

Where's the Flu Bug Biting Hardest? There's an App for That

The Doctors Report Illness Tracker has the scoop on germ hotspots all over the region and beyond.

Black Panther is Marvel's Best Film

Reviews of "Black Panther" and "Early Man," plus local movie news and notes.

First Look: Poulet Bleu in Lawrenceville

PM dining critic Hal B. Klein takes a look at the new Richard DeShantz restaurant ... and he has the scoop on what's next from the energetic restaurateur.

Meet Pittsburgh's James Beard Award Semifinalists

Pittsburgh has eight nominations in six categories.

Urban Beekeeping Creating Environmental Buzz in Pittsburgh

No backyard? No problem. The country’s first community apiary brings beekeeping to the city.

Dig In: The Next Wave of Pizza in Pittsburgh

Now is the time to be eating pizza in Pittsburgh. Pizza makers are crafting pies in a variety of styles from New York to Old World. We round up our nine favorite destinations.

Can Anthony Hamlet Fix Pittsburgh Public Schools?

The superintendent, and former NFL player, is using a new school of thought to change legacy problems.

5 Pittsburgh Craft Distilleries Earning a Place on the Shelf

Uncovering the hidden gems of western Pennsylvania’s craft spirit world.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Peters Township Native Wins Silver Medal in Speed Skating

Peters Township Native Wins Silver Medal in Speed Skating

After swine flu kept him from competing in Sochi in 2014, short track speed skater John-Henry Krueger finally won a spot on the podium at the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

Comments

Where's the Flu Bug Biting Hardest? There's an App for That

Where's the Flu Bug Biting Hardest? There's an App for That

The Doctors Report Illness Tracker has the scoop on germ hotspots all over the region and beyond.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
First Look: Poulet Bleu in Lawrenceville

First Look: Poulet Bleu in Lawrenceville

PM dining critic Hal B. Klein takes a look at the new Richard DeShantz restaurant ... and he has the scoop on what's next from the energetic restaurateur.

Comments

Avenue B is Closing

Avenue B is Closing

The Shadyside restaurant ends its 8-plus year run in a few weeks.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Sweet Ideas: Our Favorites for Valentine's Day

Sweet Ideas: Our Favorites for Valentine's Day

Where to eat, where to go, what to buy –– some of our favorites to make your Valentine's celebration memorable.

Comments

5 Best Ways to Go Beyond Regular Recycling

5 Best Ways to Go Beyond Regular Recycling

Recycling your cans is great. Recycling your couch is better.

Comments


After Dark Hall of Fame: Stage AE

After Dark Hall of Fame: Stage AE

The North Shore concert hotspot is the latest inductee in the After Dark Hall of Fame.

Comments

Five Essential February Events in Pittsburgh

Five Essential February Events in Pittsburgh

Pajama cinema, laser-aided indie rock, Pittsburgh punks and more February activities.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
The Quest is No Less Recognizable Even if Team USA Is Not

The Quest is No Less Recognizable Even if Team USA Is Not

They’re still playing hockey at the Winter Olympics, but without NHL players. Which means the guys doing the playing are relative nobodies. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Comments

Steelers Headed in Wrong Direction on The Stairway to Seven

Steelers Headed in Wrong Direction on The Stairway to Seven

A year ago at this juncture, the Steelers could legitimately perceive the Patriots as the only team standing between them and yet another championship. Now, a lot more more than just one team is in the way.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Black Panther is Marvel's Best Film

Black Panther is Marvel's Best Film

Reviews of "Black Panther" and "Early Man," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments

At Last, We're Freed from Fifty Shades

At Last, We're Freed from Fifty Shades

Reviews of "Fifty Shades Freed" and "The Cloverfield Paradox," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Cookie Table Contest: And the Winner Is ...

Cookie Table Contest: And the Winner Is ...

We introduce the winner and the runners up for our biannual cookie table contest.

Comments

This Pittsburgh Couple Got Lucky in Love

This Pittsburgh Couple Got Lucky in Love

Lea Guarino and Richard Blatz channeled their casino meeting into their wedding theme.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Great Mews: 68 Townhouses Underway for Lawrenceville

Great Mews: 68 Townhouses Underway for Lawrenceville

Located on the site of former Hanlon-Gregory Steel galvanizing plant, Mews on Butler should have its first townhomes ready for occupancy by fall.

Comments

Purple Reign: Decorating with Ultra Violet

Purple Reign: Decorating with Ultra Violet

Local interior designers detail how to incorporate Pantone's 2018 Color of the Year into your home.

Comments