The FAST Intramedullary Nail

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Today I attended one of the Bioengineering seminars held for students (primarily freshmen students) who are interested in pursuing a career in the Bioengineering field. The guest speaker for today’s presentation was Professor Dailey, a professor in the Mechanical Engineering department who also happens to be a Lehigh Alumni! Her topic was on the Flexible Axial Stimulation Intramedullary Nail, a medical orthopedic device used in the recovery of bone fractures (i.e. tibia, humerus, etc).

I really enjoyed her presentation as she went into detail not only on the product itself but also on the process one goes through prior to getting the product into the market.

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(Above is an image of the intramedullary nail once inserted into the tibia cavity, with the nails locking the metal rod that prevents rotation between the fragments of the broken tibia.)

In the case of the intramedullary nail, she spoke of how the device is designed and how it is implanted within a patient (animal or human). By finding an incision site, the nail is inserted into the hole created and then by a hammer-technique, gets pushed into the tibia cavity at an angle. Professor Dailey mentioned that we learn in our Mechanics 003 and Mechanics 012 courses (i.e. forces, stress, strain, etc), they all come into play when ensuring efficiency in the product, both in design and function.

As a Lehigh Alumni, she also spoke of her trajectory prior to working for a start-up company, Orthoxel and becoming a professor: from grad school to the work industry, then back to school for her PhD, she talked to us about what her major in college was and what got her interested in pursuing her PhD and beginning her research lab here at Lehigh.

This presentation served as a reminder that from the research and industry perspective, Bioengineering is a constantly growing branch of engineering, especially within the medical devices field.

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