Cooper Shifrin Wins 2nd Place at Fast Pitch Graduate Competition

Dec 01 2022 | By Harry Kelso


A few years ago, Cooper Shifrin's father became a quadriplegic after a bicycle accident. This came with many challenges, but one of the largest was preventing the development of bed sores. The condition required caretakers and family members to reposition him every few hours. Shifrin then started working on a medical mattress idea as a result of these needs witnessed in his own home.


On Wednesday, November 16th, 2022, Shifrin's idea won him a second-place prize among graduate students at the annual Columbia University Fast Pitch Competition. Fast Pitch is Columbia Engineering’s campus-wide annual elevator pitch competition where students win money to support their ideas. Teams have 60 seconds to sell their business ideas to a panel of judges to win up to $5,000. Fast Pitch is Columbia’s longest-running pitch competition on campus.


Fast Pitch acknowledged Shifrin's extensive research. Medical professionals typically recommend repositioning patients with limited mobility every two hours, and there is currently no mattress or device that eliminates this need. After researching this topic, Shifrin learned that bed sores form at a specific time and pressure threshold (typically 2 hours and 32mmHg applied to any area of the skin) and that no mattress on the market used pressure sensing. 


Shifrin's goal is to develop a medical mattress that uses sensory-guided pressure redistribution to eliminate the need for caretakers to reposition patients with limited mobility. This is an ambitious goal, but it will be an important advancement for those at risk for bed sores. 


Today, Shifrin continues to prototype and will have the first section of the mattress developed by the end of January. 


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