Screw Cutter

Screw Cutter Project

The challenge: develop a method to reduce the likelihood of having inadequate supplies of surgical screws in an orthopedic ward.

The Design Team: The Screw Cutter team which included me, Gregory Allan, Vivian Cheung and Andrew Meyer. We collaborated with Uganda Sustainable Trauma Orthopedic Program, Engineers in Scrubs and the UBC Entrepreneurship Team.

The context: Surgical wards in public hospitals in developing countries like Uganda often lack the necessary supplies such as screws necessary for orthopedic surgery. Their supplies are often acquired through donation and generally, the screw inventory consists of screws that are larger in length.

The approach:

  1. Followed the Biodesign process to develop the needs criteria through mapping out the cycle and context of use for an orthopedic screw, then generate and select few concepts for further development and create prototypes. The result was a device called the “Screw Cutter”.
  2. The device was taken to the national hospital in Kampala, Uganda twice for user testing.
  3. We also took the device through a Lean Launchpad program and concluded that it is best if we find an established partner that can house the project as part of their service

Key learning or insights: During the first user testing in Uganda the device was not even used because it was too heavy for it to be taken to the sterilization center which was a couple of kilometers away from the orthopedic ward. We learned very quickly that our device needs to be much smaller and lighter to carry. Another insight was to ensure that the device can be used by people from all levels of training as it is often not the surgeon who is using the device. We also found out that surgeons in developing countries wanted to actually have their own screw cutter. For more information refer to our website.

The impact of findings: Further refine the design of the product and currently we are looking into how this product could be used by programs like SIGN Fracture Care International

My specific role: I took a lead in needs finding and user testing. I was also heavily involved in prototyping and also the detailed design of our first prototype that we sent to Uganda.