I partnered up with Penn Medicine’s Psoriatic Arthritis and Spondyloarthropathies Program to ask: how might I envision improving the symptoms for patients? How can I ease the process of monitoring a chronic or recurrent condition in an innovative, user-friendly way?
What is Psoriatic Arthritis?
For research, I conducted interviews with subject matter experts to find out problems that psoriatic arthritis patients often face. Through these structured sessions, I better understood user needs and hardships, as well as the current procedures that exist. From there, I could begin identifying gaps in the problems, to focus a design solution on. Here is an interview that I conducted with Dr. Alexis Ogdie, regarding psoriatic arthritis and its symptoms, including:
Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
Red patches of skin, topped with silvery scales
After identifying all of the symptoms, I then looked to sustainable solutions in nature that could provide relief for users. Over time, I grew inspired by biomimicry – an innovative design tactic that emulates nature’s patterns and strategies, and applies them to human challenges. In particular, I was drawn to octopus epidermides.
What is biomimicry?
The design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modeled on natural, biological entities and processes.
Why Octopus Skin?
After synthesizing research from both the skin microbiome and octopus structures, I created a solution: Octosor – an octopus-inspired hand splint and customizable bacterial serum for patients with psoriatic arthritis.
Serum for patients, filled with their missing microorganisms and restores a bacterial imbalance
Hand splint with vibrational motors, to simulate octopus skin & motion and provide soothing relief for hand aches
structural diagram of the hand splint
I showcased my final prototypes and graphics at the Esther Klein Gallery in Philadelphia, PA, in a public event titled “Beautiful Monsters.” The event encompassed pieces of work that interrogate complex design ideas – raising questions about what we as humans eat, who are are, where we come from, and ultimately, question how this “we” created exists on microbial, social and political levels.
Octosor seeks to provide an intriguing, compelling launch point to work towards better understanding the microbiome when it comes to psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Octosor seeks to take user-specific data and identify imbalances, then adjust treatments accordingly. I hope that these insights can be explored further in the future, to provide more effective and rational approaches to monitoring chronic conditions.