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Black History Month: Local Doctor Develops Device To Detect Bed Sores

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- George Washington Carver, David Crosthwait and Patricia Bath are just a handful of African Americans who have created products or devices to improve our living standards.

KDKA is taking a look at a recent Carnegie Mellon University grad who's doing all she can to follow in their footsteps.

Dr. Sanna Gaspard can be found working in an Uptown building that rents space to entrepreneurs and inventors.

"My area of focus was medical device design with a specialty in development of technology for early bed sore detection," Dr. Gaspard says.

Dr. Gaspard is working to get the word out on a device she created that could change how medical professionals detect pressure ulcers or bed sores.

"What a clinician would do right now is that they would apply pressure to your skin and look for changes in your skin color, but since we're darker, we wouldn't see that in your skin," said Dr. Gaspard. "We have this device, where we could actually apply the device to the area and do the same test, and then it would tell them the health status of the skin.

The device, however, isn't just for darker skin.

"Even on white skin, I could do the test and you can do the test, and we could get two different responses," Dr. Gaspard says. "So, even on white skin you would use it and get a more, quantitative assessment of the health status of the tissue."

Bed sores reportedly affect 2.3 million of the roughly 40 million elderly individuals in the United States.

"Out of the 2.3 million people who get the condition, currently 60,000 of them die," the doctor said. "The cost for pressure ulcers is around $11 billion.

Gaspard wants to stay in Pittsburgh and manufacture her cutting-edge device.

"Pittsburgh is known as a hub for bio-technology and medical devices specifically. I think to have the opportunity for this technology to be developed in Pittsburgh with such a large impact on the potential economy as well as the health care system," Dr. Gaspard added.

As much as she would like to stay in the area, she's concerned on getting the device out.

"Right now, I've launch my own independent funding campaign on a crown funding site called Indiegogo," Dr. Gaspard said. "I'm trying to raise the initial funding that I need currently to build a working clinical prototype that we can go out and test on patients locally."

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