André LinharesPhD Math student helps surgeons correct skull deformities in infants

André Linhares, a 24-year-old PhD student in the Faculty of Mathematics, is working with surgeons at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children to help ensure the best possible outcome for infants who undergo skull surgery.

André has always enjoyed the beauty of theoretical math, but the work he is doing now has a very real and practical impact on the lives of babies with skull deformities. André has helped to develop mathematical models being used by surgeons to determine which locations are the best to make the surgical cuts. "The idea of work that has an actual, practical application, that's definitely a bonus," he said.

The results so far have been promising. According to the surgeons, the mathematical analysis sometimes leads to the same recommendations they would have made, while other times it has led to a superior decision that they wouldn’t have made without the help of the analysis. Not only that, the research team hopes surgeons will be able to use the models to train surgeons who are unfamiliar with the process, and also reduce surgery time.

André explained that the existing models are designed for surgeries on a strip of bone above the eyebrow called the fronto-orbital band. The next step will be to try and develop models for more complex surgeries that involve other parts of the skull.

Learn more about André’s research experience with surgeons in the operating room on The Record and uWaterloo Stories.

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