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Author: Martin Huć     Published At: 01.12.2023

Success of Biomechatronics SKN "BIOKREATYWNI" in the StRuNa competition!

The Biomechatronics Student Science Club "BIOKREATYWNI" of the Silesian University of Technology took first place in the StRuNa competition in the StRuNa-MED category for the project "Speech therapy aquarium".

StRuNa is a nationwide competition for students from science clubs. It is organized by the "Student Assistance Fund" foundation, under the patronage of the Ministry of Education and Science. For the 13th edition, 207 applications were submitted, and winners were selected in eleven categories. The final gala, during which the awards were presented, took place at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.

The "Speech therapy aquarium" project was implemented by Julia Sadowska, Jakub Pałachniak and Michał Król from Biomechatronics SKN „BIOKREATYWNI". The substantive supervision of the project was provided by dr Eng. Agata Guzik-Kopyto and MSc. Eng. Marta Chmura. It was carried out in cooperation with therapists from the Special Educational Centre for Children and Youth in Dąbrowa Górnicza: Magdalena Nowak and Jolanta Zabuska-Mamczur.

- The most important mission of Biomedical Engineering is to help others - explains dr Eng. Agata Guzik-Kopyto. - This mission was carried out in its project by an interdisciplinary team of students of the Biomechatronics Student Science Club "BIOKREATYWNI", which operates at the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering of the Silesian University of Technology. Its main goal was to design and create a mobile platform for speech therapy - "Speech therapy aquarium". The designed device supports the everyday work of therapists by using innovative methods of speech therapy for children and adults. The main assumption of the designed platform was its functionality and mobility, as well as the possibility of use with various types of disabilities, including multiple disabilities.

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The mobile platform for speech therapy consists of two parts: a rectangular aquarium made of acrylic glass and a stand equipped with wheels with brakes, tiltable and adjustable to the patient's height and position.

- The designed solution provides a safe, effective and attractive form of rehabilitation, which, using this device, takes the form of fun by performing various breathing exercises, which involve blowing through holes in the aquarium using plastic straws - says M.Sc. Marta Chmura. - A child or adult will be involved in a variety of games using aids such as original boards and ping-pong balls, feathers, sand, pompoms...

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An important part of the project was the cooperation of students of the club with experienced therapists from the Special Educational Centre for Disabled Children and Youth in Dąbrowa Górnicza.

- Students had the opportunity to learn about existing solutions for speech therapy - says dr Eng. Agata Guzik-Kopyto. - Meetings with disabled people made them sensitive to their specific needs and showed the need to design a solution for speech therapy that would be as universal as possible and could meet most requirements.
After the first consultations with therapists, it turned out that the solution proposed by the design team would be an innovative aid, and its mobile nature would improve the therapeutic process.

- An important advantage of the speech therapy aquarium is the ease of keeping it clean, and thanks to the numerous and replaceable boards and accessories, the classes are attractive and interesting - says Magdalena Nowak, neurologist, oligophrenopedagogue at the SOSW in Dąbrowa Górnicza. - It is a universal device used in respiratory therapy, but also in manual exercises, desensitization and sensory therapy.

- On behalf of the management and the entire community of our centre, we would like to thank dr Eng. Agata Guzik-Kopyto and MSc. Eng. Marta Chmura and students Julia Sadowska, Jakub Pałachniak and Michał Król for a device that is innovative and, above all, tailored to the needs and capabilities of our students - says Małgorzata Dolińska-Stanek, director at SOSW in Dąbrowa Górnicza.

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The designed speech therapy platform is a universal device intended for every recipient.

- It fulfils its purpose in various places, such as a therapeutic clinic, hospital, nursing home, as well as a private home - says dr Eng. Agata Guzik-Kopyto. - Thanks to its mobile design, the platform can be used by people of different ages and people with physical disabilities. It solves the problem of therapy for people with physical disabilities, especially those who are bedridden. Its mobility, and additionally the inclination of the aquarium at a specific angle adapted to the patient's needs, facilitates speech therapy for people who have problems with movement, especially of the upper limbs and head. Additionally, the inclination of the aquarium allows the therapist to conduct exercises with various levels of difficulty, tailored to the needs of a specific patient.

Ultimately, the project was implemented with great success.

- This confirmed the engineering skills of students and the high scientific potential of the Silesian University of Technology, and also allowed them to acquire the ability to translate the real needs of disabled people into a practical engineering design solution - sums up dr Eng. Agata Guzik-Kopyto.

The project was implemented as part of the "Science without borders" program initiated by the Science Popularization Centre of the Silesian University of Technology.

Photos Magdalena Szczęsna, Magdalena Nowak, dr Eng. Agata Guzik-Kopyto.

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