‘To solve a difficult medtech problem, I used image processing and AI’

Aline Faria de Lemos
Aline Faria de Lemos, a PhD student from Brazil, has already studied here in Hungary when she met the opportunity of the Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship. Now she is researching about a MedTech topic as a PhD student at BME Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Department of MOGI. Interview.

So, first of all, why did you choose BME?

I lived in Budapest for a year during my bachelor's degree. I won a scholarship for a sandwich degree, which meant a two semester-long period of my bachelor's in Hungary. To tell the truth, I did not know much about Hungary before, but when I got to Budapest, I saw that it is a beautiful city, with classical buildings and friendly people. After this year, which is a fond memory for me, I returned to Brazil, but I kept thinking about Budapest. 

During my masters in Brazil, I got to know about the Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship, and that it is available for PhD as well. That time I have already decided to continue my studies in a PhD programme. I started searching for doctoral programmes for mechanical engineering, that is how I have found the BME and especially the Department of MOGI (Mechatronics, Optics and Mechanical Engineering Informatics). I also had a look at the scientific performance of the professors and lecturers here, seeing, that they are highly qualified and are doing serious research, like my supervisor, Balázs Vince Nagy. Besides, I already had some friends who studied here and were satisfied with the education and the research opportunities. 

And how do you like studying in Budapest? I'm sure that it must be very different than Brazil… 

In Brazil, I live in a city with a population of 250 000. In the Brazilian scale, it is a small town. Although Budapest has seven times more inhabitants, from my experiences, Budapest combines the benefits of small Brazilian cities and a metropolitan lifestyle. Budapest is vibrant but safe, you can find all facilities for everyday life close to you, and you have all the opportunities a metropolis offers – cultural events, clubs, concerts, festivals, with an international atmosphere. 

I would highlight that the numerous green areas of Budapest are perfect for relaxing. Several times, when I am trying to find a solution for a complex problem, I visit parks, for example, Margaret Island to sit and relax and that helps me to find a solution. I have multiple favourite spots in Budapest, and most of them are along the Danube's riverside, which is perfect for watching the sunset. 

How your research about pose and parameters estimation, especially the research of joints detection can be applied? 

Physiotherapists and occupational therapists often mention that it is complicated to evaluate their subjects. They have to measure, the position of the joints of a patient with rhizarthrosis, from time to time, to evaluate the patient's improvement. They have to do it manually because they do not have access to reliable software that perform the necessary measurements automatically. Unfortunately, the procedure is uncomfortable for the patients, as they are already in pain. 

That is why I thought about joint detection. Nowadays, many other methods use markers, but it is also bad for the subject. In my research, joint detection will be performed without any markers with image processing and artificial intelligence. The literature contains similar works. However, they cannot be found with applications for such fields as ready-to-use software on the market. 

How can you decide with this method that a patient's condition is improving? 

It is not only about the position of the joint, but rather about the range of the movement that a patient can perform. The improvement of a condition of a patient with rhizarthrosis can be seen when the patient presents a greater range of motion on the trapeziometacarpal joint compared to the beginning of the treatment. 

What are your plans regarding your research? 

Well, we will improve the hand joint detection algorithm, which I have already started to build a new architecture of artificial intelligence. We will also estimate the parameters of joints, such as their velocity. But I would like to detect key joints on the whole body as well. Besides, I am working on another three topics. I have not decided about my plans after my PhD. Although it is tough to be apart from the family, on the other hand, it is an attractive opportunity to continue my research in Hungary. 

László Benesóczky

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