Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M. Eng.

Cooperating University

University of Louisville



Degree Program

JB Speed School of Engineering

Committee Chair

Roussel, Thomas

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Bertocci, Gina

Committee Member

Bertocci, Gina

Committee Member

Ovechkin, Alexander

Author's Keywords

respiratory; trainer; breathforce; spinal; cord; injury


Pulmonary and cardiovascular dysfunction are consistently reported as the leading causes of morbidity and mortality among the 1,275,000 people who are living with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) in the United States. Respiratory-cardiovascular complications from neurological disorders (primarily COPD and sleep apnea) are currently the number one cause of death and disability in the US.

The main goal of this project is to develop an inspiratory-expiratory training device for use in the rehabilitation of patients with respiratory motor and cardiovascular deficits that incorporates existing technologies and promotes successful training methodologies performed at the clinic and at home.

An embedded microprocessor was to convert pressure from a physiological range pressure sensor into appropriate units and guide the user through a therapy session, while saving the data for later use by the clinician. Rechargeable batteries were used to allow for portability. A bi-directional breathing apparatus to accompany the microprocessor was developed using FDA approved, off-the-shelf parts.

Two therapy modes were programmed into the microprocessor to 1) find max expiratory pressure (MEP) and max inspiratory pressure (MIP) of the user and 2) function as a spirometer to track and display user data during respiratory muscle training (RMT).

A transducer tester was used to apply a calibrated pressure to the device to validate the measurement accuracy. Measured values differed from the tester by 1.91%-3.78%. No drift was noticed in the device when left running for an extended period of time and humidity, moisture, and temperature effects did not affect the accuracy of the sensor measurement. A SCI test subject showed an average pressure deviation from target values (10-18.51%) that were less than that of a healthy subject (~40%).

The prototype device that was given the name BreathForce. Validation studies are underway for accuracy and effectiveness.