The right pitch

Ashstynn Trauth holds a model skull with a small hole in the cranium, contemplates it a la "Alas, poor Yorick."

A chance encounter with a flier announcing Kirk Froggatt’s Leading Breakthrough Technology Innovation class led student Ashtynn Trauth to design a new technology to help people with subdural hematomas.

These accumulations of blood beneath the tough lining of the brain usually result from injury. Surgeons drain them via a syringe inserted through a small hole drilled in the skull. But after the hole has been sealed, a hematoma can reappear in the same place and send the patient back for another date with the drill.

For her senior project, biomedical engineering student Trauth and four classmates shadowed University of Minnesota neurosurgeons and came up with an idea to make it easier to drain chronic subdural hematomas more than once: a soft plug for the hole.

“In the first hematoma craniotomy, the doctor will place the plug and close the skin over it,” she explains. “If the hematoma recurs, the patient can go into the clinic or doctor’s office—as opposed to an operating room—and have their fluid drained by needle with no need for anesthesia.”

Trauth credits the class by Froggatt, a senior fellow in the University’s Technological Leadership Institute, with putting her on the path to developing life-changing technology. In it, the students found different ways to use a single technology “to create different products and services, and find completely different ways to use it,” Trauth says. “Kirk helped me sharpen my skills to target my pitch to the audience.”
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities