Researchers at Penn Medicine have developed a wearable sleeve that provides rapid pulsatile compression, and aims to mimic the compression our calf muscles experience during walking. The technology, being commercialized by Osciflex, a spin out from Penn Medicine, is intended to prevent deep vein thrombosis in patients who are bed-bound for long periods of time.
Deep vein thrombosis tends to affect those that are not very mobile, so getting out of bed to stretch one’s legs is a challenge, making the condition tricky to prevent. At present, mechanical cuffs that periodically inflate around the leg are used, with mixed success. Another option is anti-coagulant drugs, but such treatments come with additional risks of uncontrolled bleeding, meaning that they aren’t suitable for every patient.
The researchers behind this new device studied the gene expression involved in deep vein thrombosis, and found that the genetic basis for healthy blood flow can become dysregulated by long periods of inactivity. “We began to look at venous valves and their gene expression compared to lymphatic valves,” said Mark Kahn, a researcher involved in the project “We got to understand something that wasn’t well understood: Venous valves were the point of origin for a lot of pathologies.”
According to the researchers, currently used mechanical cuffs aren’t effective enough to prevent clot formation at venous valves. “They all functioned in a way that moved blood forward but didn’t have an effect on the valves that we thought was critical,” said John Welsh, another researcher involved in the project.
Their solution is the Oscipulse, and is intended to mimic the rapid compression that occurs during walking. The researchers claim that it can help to maintain healthy blood flow more effectively than mechanical cuffs. “It’s more like a quick tap, a fluid wave similar to the way things would behave during something like walking,” said Kahn.
So far, the researchers have tested their device on healthy volunteers and used ultrasound imaging to monitor compression during normal calf contraction and while using the device, to make sure that it was mimicking healthy behavior. “We really benefited from developing the ultrasound protocol and creating a biomarker to look for,” said Welsh. “We were able to try out more compression, less, and then use ultrasound to assess changes in the design.”
“Our ultimate goal is to replace the compression devices that don’t work particularly well but are used on a majority of patients across the country,” said Kahn. “This is something that’s relatively simple, ready for manufacturing, and guided by research. We think it can help a lot of people.”
Link: Osciflex homepage…
Via: Penn Medicine