Gizmag is reporting that a team of bioengineering students from Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey has been working with the U.S. Army to develop a hypothermia treatment system to aid wounded soldiers in combat. The current standard of treatment is an IV drip coupled with warming of the body using a blanket, but the new system brings heat more efficiently to the body via the lungs.
The Heat Wave system uses heated, humidified air delivered through an oxygen mask to capitalize on the patient’s respiratory system. Capitalizing on the fact that the entire blood volume passes through the lungs, this heat is rapidly transferred to the blood via convection. Tests of their system show it is more effective than current treatments.
“We can decrease the time needed to resuscitate a hypothermic patient to just four hours, a 75% reduction in treatment time,” reports Maia. “Not only does this increase survival rates for the patient, but it also frees up field medics so they can attend to others.”
The team developed a prototype to test their concept. A heater/humidifier pumps air into an insulated container simulating the lungs, which is connected to an additional container representing the cardiovascular system. Heat transfers between the containers via a water-filled tube to simulate convection between lungs and blood. Heat and humidity are continually recorded via sensors wired to a laptop computer.
Press release: Fighting Hypothermia on the Battlefield …
(hat tip: Gizmag)