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Dr Emily Porter: Incoming Fellow

Project Title: Development of an InteGrated and Novel Incontinence Management System Based on Impedance TomographY (DIGNITY)

Host Institution: NUIG

Host PI: Dr Geraldine Leader

Home Institution: McGill University, Montreal, Canada


Project Summary: Supportive technologies hold great potential to advance and preserve the independence and dignity of those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). People with ASD and ASD with an intellectual disability (ASD/ID) have an increased prevalence of health problems and their needs are often unmet. In particular, children with ASD and ASD/ID can face challenges performing critical tasks that are required to develop independent living and thus a high quality of life. One of the most significant challenges affecting the autonomy, dignity, and outlook of children with ASD and ASD/ID is urinary incontinence. Continence management and toilet training for children with ASD and ASD/ID is an area which still faces challenges, and current supportive technologies are lacking. Today, ultrasoundbased techniques for bladder volume monitoring are most common. However, such devices require a medical professional to operate for accurate results and often have severe restrictions, including cost, power consumption, safety requirements, portability, and complexity. These issues limit the availability and usage of ultrasound devices, motivating the investigation of alternative technologies. In this project, we propose the development of a safe and non-invasive wearable device to monitor the volume of urine in the bladder, as a novel method to promote toilet training in children with ASD and ASD/ID. Based on Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT), this novel device will provide an alert when the bladder is reaching capacity, enabling the user or carer to take proactive measures to empty the bladder before an accident occurs, thus helping those with ASD and ASD/ID become toilet trained.

Currently no such long-term wearable bladder volume monitor exists. Furthermore, the monitor will provide data to both the carer and medical professionals to aid diagnosis, treatment and management of toileting issues, and will reduce the burden of care and required resources for managing toileting needs.


Bio: Dr. Emily Porter completed her Ph.D. at McGill University in 2015, where she studied Applied Electromagnetics (Electrical Engineering). Dr. Porter received her B.Eng. and M.Eng., both in Electrical and Computer Engineering, in 2008 and 2010, respectively. Since 2015, Dr. Porter has been a postdoctoral researcher at the Translational Medical Device Laboratory at the National University of Ireland Galway. Her research is focused on novel medical applications of electromagnetics for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Dr. Porter further works on assistive and supportive tools for the intellectually or physically disabled. Currently, as an ASSISTID Fellow, she is investigating electrical impedance tomography as a wearable technology to support toilet training in children with ASD and intellectual disabilities.
Dr. Porter is the recipient of several prestigious national and international awards, including the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society Doctoral Research Award, the URSI Young Scientist Award, the Irish Research Council (IRC) “New Foundations” Grant, the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) Charlemont Grant, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Postdoctoral Fellowship, Le Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT) Fellowship (Research Fund of Quebec: Nature and Technologies), and the D.W. Ambridge Prize, awarded by McGill University for the most outstanding graduating doctoral student in Natural Sciences or Engineering.