New student-designed kit may help train global health providers to insert and remove contraceptive implants

June 12, 2015

In developing regions where the economy is weak and medical services are limited, global health experts say as many as 200 million women want access to long-term, reversible contraceptives to avoid unintended pregnancies and to help space out the births of their children.

One of the most convenient and effective options—a tiny implant that can delay conception for three to five years—is inserted into a woman’s arm and can later be removed at any time to restore fertility. However, in developing nations, these simple procedures often must be done by frontline providers who have minimal training. Sometimes, the cylindrical toothpick-shaped implant may be inadvertently inserted into the woman’s fat tissue instead of just under the outer skin layer. This causes the contraceptive to become ineffective and makes removal of the implant far more difficult.

The student inventors of the CITT Kit are, from left: Victor Dadfar, Miguel Sobral, Taylor Lam, Chloe Quinlan, Tommy Athey, Jessica Wu and Nick Bello. Not pictured: Chris Coughlan. Photo by Will Kirk/Johns Hopkins University.

The student inventors of the CITT Kit are, from left: Victor Dadfar, Miguel Sobral, Taylor Lam, Chloe Quinlan, Tommy Athey, Jessica Wu and Nick Bello. Not pictured: Chris Coughlan. Photo by Will Kirk/Johns Hopkins University.

To help prevent such problems, a team of Johns Hopkins University biomedical engineering undergraduates has developed a teaching set called the Contraceptive Implant Training Tool Kit or CITT Kit, for short. The medical simulator includes two training models: a stand-alone replica arm and a layered band that can be worn by health workers who act as “patients” during practice sessions.

“We’ve produced a kit that’s designed to effectively teach lower-level healthcare providers the proper way to insert and remove these subdermal contraceptive implants,” said team leader Taylor Lam of Thousand Oaks, Calif., who graduated in May.

View a video about the project here and read the complete story at The Hub.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design