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Raynaud’s condition is a disease in which blood vessels in the extremities constrict in response to emotional stimuli and cold environments. This results in extreme discoloration and pain in the regions affected (Figure 1), and can cause permanent tissue damage. Although there is no current cure for this disease, there are several methods of pain mitigation including the use of drugs, gloves, avoiding exposure to cold weather, and using heating devices. However, these solutions are only temporary. Most gloves do not provide adequate insulation or have a short battery life.
This project is aimed at mediating the negative physiological effects of Raynaud’s disease by developing a thermo-regulated device to regulate the temperature of the extremities. The final prototype utilizes a micro-controller that activates a steel-fiber heating element placed inside of a glove. The closedloop control reacts to a thermocouple signal that measures the user’s hand temperature at several strategic locations. This ensures that the heating element is activated when the hand approaches dangerously low temperature and is deactivated when the temperature of the hand returns to a safe temperature. This automated process eliminates the need for the wearer to manually control the heat setting, while maximizing battery life. Additionally, undesired side effects of overheating such as sweating are avoided.
A device of this nature would revolutionize the world of a person suffering from Raynaud’s disease. Other applications of the gloves include first responders operating in extreme weather. Future studies include optimization of the materials to maximize dexterity without sacrificing insulation.
Mechanical and nuclear engineering, Raynaud’s Disease; micro-controller; wearable electronics; conduction and convection
Engineering | Mechanical Engineering | Nuclear Engineering
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