The start of final exams at the University of Delaware means long hours spent writing papers, cramming for tests and packing up the end of another school year. But even the most diligent students need a study break to recharge, relax and, hopefully, replenish their creativity. 

For those who attended the inaugural Brainstorm-a-Palooza in the North Atrium of the Health Sciences Complex, that’s exactly what happened – along with the development of potentially innovative ways to help UD football players dealing with hamstring injuries. 

Nearly 70 students competing in 17 teams from majors across campus turned out for the event, sponsored by the Innovation Health Design Lab in the College of Health Sciences. The goal was to develop wearable technology ideas as part of a Henswear collaboration with UD Athletics. 

“We wanted this to be a study break that sounded really fun and out of the box,” said Martha Hall, Director of Innovation for the College of Health Sciences. “Our idea was to get students thinking about new ideas with no expectations about what they came up with.” 

Hamstring strains are common in football players. They’re also a labor intensive injury for athletic trainers to deal with because the typical treatment involves taping athletes to help support the hamstring and reduce discomfort. One of the hopes through the Henswear collaboration is the development of something to reduce the need for extensive taping. 

At the start of the brainstorming session, Assistant Head Athletic Trainer Brandon DeSantis, who is working with the Innovation Health Design Lab on the Henswear project, demonstrated the taping challenges with the help of three athletic trainers and two UD football players. After a quick icebreaker to get the creativity pumping, teams were sent off for 45 minutes to brainstorm ideas.

Along the way, “floating mentors” from the College of Engineering, the College of Health Sciences and the athletic training department answered student questions and offered feedback. 

“One student told me, ‘I study rocks. How am I going to do this?’ I said that didn’t matter because it’s about the ideas,” said Hall, adding that one student who is an amateur climber used climbing belts to rig a prototype. “Sometimes when you think you know something really well, you tend to be limited in how you handle it.”

In addition to winning gift cards, the top two teams will have their ideas turned into senior design projects in the College of Engineering next fall. Hanna Mohler, Nico Repelle, Lexi Gilbert and Taylor Modica won first place at Brain-a-palooza, earning a $500 gift card. Olivia Greene, Emily Crutchfield, Amanda Kelly and Paige Palli placed second, winning a $300 gift card. Talia Cohen, Kristen Benavente and Daniel Prado placed third, earning a $200 gift card. 

“We want to figure out a way to keep this going because the students really enjoyed it,” Hall said. “It helped us build a connection with students as we build our connection with UD Athletics.” 

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