Developing a low-cost treatment device for neonatal asphyxia 




The Neonatal Asphyxia Project’s mission is to design a device that applies hypothermia therapy to mitigate the effects of asphyxia in neonates born in low-resource communities.


The Neonatal Asphyxia Project (NAP) launched in late 2015 at the University of Michigan in response to the need for an accessible neonatal asphyxia treatment device. We are a multidisciplinary team of 12 undergraduate students working together with our community partner to address this need in a way that is socially, culturally, economically, and environmentally sustainable.

Neonatal asphyxia is a leading cause of neonatal death in India [1]. The disease manifests during or shortly after birth and can be caused by maternal preeclampsia, infant heart or lung malformations, inadequate oxygenation of maternal blood, knotting of umbilical cord around the infant’s neck, or prolonged delivery.  It occurs from oxygen deprivation during birth, and survivors are at risk for developmental delays, disabilities, cerebral palsy, motor disorders, and other physical maladies [2][3][4].

Hypothermia therapy is the standard treatment for asphyxiated infants; by lowering the neonate’s core body temperature by three to four degrees Celcius for 72 hours after birth, hypothermia therapy is shown to reduce the extent of brain injury [5][6][7].

We have partnered with Dr. Heena Patel and Dr. Vaibhav Patel at the Hasya Newborn Care Centre to design a device that uses hypothermia therapy to mitigate the effects of neonatal asphyxia. The Hasya Newborn Care Centre is the first comprehensive neonatal hospital in the rural area of northern Gujarat, India. The clinic’s current approach is to apply hypothermia therapy through makeshift cold packs made from surgical gloves filled with water and then frozen. Because this method is difficult to administer and regulate, our partners have asked for a solution that is effective and feasible in their community.

Currently, NAP is prototyping and testing components for a device that applies hypothermia therapy to the neonate through a cooling mattress.

To work towards our goal, NAP has sought the guidance of experts at the University, in industry, and abroad. This year, we’re working closely with Mitch Baldwin, Chief Engineer at Stryker; Dr. William Meurer, Doctor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School; and Dr. Melissa Wrobel, Lecturer III in the UM Biomedical Engineering department.


2019 Socially Engaged Design Award

NAP was awarded First Place in the Socially Engaged Design Awards at the Winter 2019 Michigan Engineering Design Expo. This award “recognizes design teams that demonstrate substantial attention to social, cultural, economic, and environmental contexts in their design process and presentation.”

2017 HIE Help Center Scholarship

NAP was awarded the first annual HIE Help Center Scholarship from the HIE Help Center in Bloomfield, MI for our work in designing an affordable treatment device for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).

NAP Team Leads 2017

Project Leads

Aria Thakore |


Julia Toye | jtoye@UMICH.EDU