EMMI Technology Creates 3D Tumor Models

EMMI Technology Creates 3D Tumor Models
Posted on 01/25/2019
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HSWCHS EAST students work to identify and solve real world problems and needs through highly advanced technology. Senior Madeline (Maddie) Scott and sophomore Ella Pace created a method for generating 3D models of cancer tumors to solve a doctor-patient educational gap. Their project was inspired by a brain-related tumor diagnosis for a  friend, where they learned about the personal confusion and oftentimes shock that goes along with patients who receive serious medical news for the first time. Using a 3D printer, and knowledge gained from many dedicated hours of surgical observation and interviews with cancer patients, the ladies created a way to produce 3D models of cancer tumors so that doctors can provide tangible tumor models to patients. The project hit very close to home for the group when their own EAST Facilitator Mr. John Stokes received a cancer diagnosis, and used the technology during his own diagnosis and treatment.

The EAST (Education Accelerated by Service & Technology) Initiative began in 1996. Through EAST, a facilitator oversees student-led projects that are service oriented and technology based. The HSSD has EAST program opportunities for kindergarten - 12th grade students. Maddie and Ella began their project, which they refer to as “EMMI” (Ella and Madeline Medical Innovations), in the spring of 2018 after a friend received a diagnosis for pseudotumor cerebri. That is often referred to as a “false tumor,” because the pressure inside an individual’s brain increases as if there is a tumor, but there isn’t one. This experience led them to question how doctors can better help patients understand their bodies, and furthermore - better explain clinical diagnosis of medical emergencies like brain tumors and even cancer tumors. Their solution was to create visual representations of tumors using 3D printer technology.

They partnered with Ella’s father, Dr. John Pace - a Hot springs neurosurgeon, to gain knowledge and insight through long hours spent observing neurosurgeries, looking over cancer scans, and interviewing cancer patients. Then, they used 3D printers in the HSWCHS EAST Program area to create scale models from tumor scans that patients can actually hold. In fact, using scans, EMMI technology creates models of cancer tumors and even the exact location of the tumor mass inside the body. After finding a tumor of any kind, doctors can use the specifically-designed 3D models to explain in a short, concise, but heartfelt and personal manner, about the diagnosis and treatment for each individual patient.

The project hit home for Ella and Maddie when they used the technology on their own teacher, HSWCHS EAST Facilitator Mr. Stokes. Because of the many hours they spent observing cancer-related tumor diagnosis and surgery, Maddie recognized a concerning small bump on Mr. Stokes’s neck during class. She mentioned that he should have it looked at by a doctor. Her concerns were validated, when Mr. Stokes confirmed that he had stage two cancer. He immediately had the spot removed, and began seeking radiation treatment. He is continuing treatment through this winter with full expectations for remission. He credits the initial observation by Maddie as one of the only ways the cancer was detected at such an early stage. Maddie, Ella, and Mr. Stokes with his wife and family use this example to encourage all individuals to get frequent cancer screenings during health visits. Mr. Stokes had no other symptoms of cancer, except for a small swollen lymph node on his neck. He didn’t feel bad, and he had no reason to suspect that he had a very rare form of cancer. Because of early detection, a doctor and team were able to identify the cancer quickly and move through treatment. EMMI technology was used by Mr. Stokes and his doctor team to create a visual model of the tumor, and then develop a strategy for treatment.

EMMI has gained huge national attention through the EAST Initiative, and has been covered heavily by Arkansas media.  See the story featured for a second time by media partners at KATV 7 News in this video clip, here.  

The story doesn’t end here. Maddie and Ella have big plans for EMMI, first of which is growing a personal business that will hopefully expand as their experience and eventual formal education does. To their knowledge, this is the only technology of its kind available in Arkansas. With the help of many mentors, partners and friends, they hope to bring this technology to doctors across the state and nation. They also want to create a lasting impact at HSWCHS. The duo is working with Mr. Stokes and district leadership to create a Cancer Day, where individuals from the community are invited to visit the high school at no cost and receive information about general health and wellness practices, cancer detection, testimonies and advice from local cancer survivors, and even cancer screenings provided by Hot Springs hospitals. They hope that their project, and the diagnosis and treatment experience from Mr. Stokes, will help build awareness about the importance of cancer screening and general health checkups for everyone.

Learn more about the HSSD HSWCHS, here.

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