Cradleride - reduction of vibration during neonatal hospital transport

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering


Ambulance transport of premature infants is associated with a greater risk of bleeds within the brain. It is believed that this may be due to the high levels of vibration and noise to which they are exposed. By reducing these levels, the medical outcomes of these babies could be improved.
This project aims to reduce vibration and noise that babies are exposed to by characterising road gathering road quality data through the use of the integrated transducers found in modern mobile devices. This data will then be used to model the exposure of the baby to road quality linked stimuli, known to cause neonatal stress, over the whole journey. Such a continuously updated model then forms the basis for smart route selection.
We will develop a smartphone application with a user interface suitable for operation by ambulance crews to acquire the noise, vibration and positional data. We will first validate and calibrate the on-board transducer systems, not only to establish their performance but also to confirm that there is congruence between different mobile devices. Supervision by the ambulance crew will be limited to starting and stopping recording and adding transfer specific metadata. Data retrieval will be handled automatically. Wireless data upload will be automatic and error tolerant.
Approximately 700 transfers (2 transfers per day over a year) will be recorded (in the time domain) both to collect the noise and vibration data and to create a map of frequent transfer routes. Since the ambulances will cover the same stretch of road at a variety of different speedswe want to know where noise and vibration occur rather than at what time, it will be necessary to resample the data from the time to the spatial domain. This will facilitate the generation of a network of road segments to which we will assign weightings based on the maximum or average noise and vibration levels for each segment. Routes optimised to minimise these comfort related scores will be compared to those routes most frequently chosen by the ambulance drivers. Linkages will also be investigated between noise, vibration and vehicle speed.
Comfort values derived from standards for adult comfort (e.g. ISO 2631) will be used as a neonatal comfort index has not yet been defined. One of the future applications of this project will be to combine gathered vibration and noise data with clinical outcomes for neonatal transfers to identify any causality, leading to a neonatal comfort index being characterised. This could then be utilised, along with the gathered data, to provide a most comfortable route option within satellite navigation systems.
A key element of this project is the close partnership with the Central and Trent Neonatal Transport Group. Not only will they give stake holder input throughout the project, but also will be the natural champions for the project within the neonatal transport community ensuring rapid uptake of the mobile application across the UK.


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publication icon
Partridge T (2021) Smartphone monitoring of in-ambulance vibration and noise. in Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Part H, Journal of engineering in medicine

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Partridge TJ (2020) Finding Comfortable Routes for Ambulance Transfers of Newborn Infants. in Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Annual International Conference

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/P510592/1 30/09/2016 23/12/2021
1788303 Studentship EP/P510592/1 30/09/2016 29/09/2020 Thomas Partridge