All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Alan Eberhardt

Advisory Committee Members

Joel Berry

Linda Thompson

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Biomedical Engineering (MBE) School of Engineering


Today, most medications are administered according to a standard amount or based on the patient’s weight (weight-based). For emergency departments and emergency medical services, weight-based medications are difficult to administer as medical personnel do not have a means to obtain accurate patient weights. Paramedics generally rely on visual estimation for adults and height- or age-based estimation tools for children in order to obtain weight. Over the past year, a team of biomedical engineering students, including the present author, worked to design and fabricate a weighing device for in-ambulance use. This device consists of three separate scales, wired together as one, that attach to the base of an ambulance stretcher. Each scale consists of a platform of syntactic foam and four strain gauge load sensors. An Arduino is used to combine the three weight measurements and display the total weight on a liquid crystal display. Validation testing was performed. The first test was an accuracy test where the device was compared to the standard (standing) weight of each participant. For children, estimations using the Broselow tape and Pedi-Wheel were also recorded. The data was used to determine if the device was reading accurately, as well as to see if the device is better than the current methods used by paramedics. After the device was working properly, it was tested by paramedics, allowing them to provide feedback regarding the accuracy, usefulness, and durability of the device. From this, necessary changes were made in order to better the prototype. The results indicated that this prototype works as well as, if not better than, the Broselow tape and Pedi-Wheel. Paramedics provided positive feedback on the idea, but there were some concerns expressed, durability and reliability being the most common. Future modifications to the scales, including changes to the material, can help to improve the durability, and further calibration can help to improve reliability.

Included in

Engineering Commons



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