Microfluidic Haptic Feedback Sensor for Airway Management
Airway complications are currently the second most common cause of potentially survivable death on the battlefield, and securing an airway is among the top priorities of the medical provider. Digital intubation is one effective strategy in managing airways, which involves the provider using their fingers to ultimately guide the insertion of the endotracheal tube into the trachea. Despite its great promise in pre-hospital situations when the direct visualization of airways is not readily available, digital intubation presents a clear risk to the provider and its success is significantly limited by the length of the provider's fingers. In this thesis, it is proposed to develop an electromechanical device platform that extends the user's own dexterous control while providing the haptic and physiological feedback for digital intubation. The work presented in this thesis focuses on the fabrication of haptic feedback devices, such as in the form of tactile sensors, that will serve to augment the user's ability to feel the structures at the distal tip of such an innovative airway management device. In order to fulfill the application's need, a microfluidic tactile sensor with a 5 x 5 taxel array was fabricated using soft lithography techniques. Preliminary testing with the first prototype demonstrated a correlation between applied pressure and output voltage.