University of Rochester

Student Engineering Team Honored in Three Competitions

May 6, 2011

People who have had back surgery face the added difficulty of dealing with complicated and burdensome back braces, a process that causes many to bend and twist in ways that are harmful to their recovery. But a group of biomedical engineering students at the University of Rochester is getting recognition for developing back braces that are safer and easier to use, and for their plans to consider commercialization of their devices.

As part of a senior design class, Frances Bell, Jacy Krystal Bulaon, and Swapna Kumar, whose project is called DonDoff Solutions, devised a system to help patients get into (don) and out of (doff) their braces throughout the recovery process.

The first method, referred to as Rolling, makes it easier for a caregiver to roll a patient to his or her side in order to secure the brace. The students made use of a wedge pillow and low-friction sheets to increase patient comfort and better secure the patient.

The second method is for use when a patient regains strength and no longer needs the assistance of a caregiver to put on a back brace. This process employs a customizable alignment chair that holds the brace while the seated patient straps it in place.

The brace itself has also been modified to include simpler fastening and tightening systems for individuals with limited mobility and dexterity. They have working prototypes of the entire system and are preparing for feedback from clinicians and patients.

DonDoff Solutions won third place honors in the New York State Business Plan Competition ( last week and tied for second place in the Charles and Janet Forbes Entrepreneurial Competition ( at the University.

The DonDoff team is also a finalist in the 2011 RESNA Student Design Competition (, to be held in Toronto, CA in June. RESNA is the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America, whose goal is help people with disabilities through the application of technology.