Health care devices and technology have always been transiting in a parallel fashion. From Pacemakers to bionic robots mankind has been striving hard to infuse technology and help enrich the livelihood of many. While most of the other creatures rely on evolution to make changes humans have been involved in Self-Designed evolution from quiet some time. This time around researchers from Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital have developed a soft robot that is expected to help people survive heart attacks.
Most of the medicare devices end up being a contraption and are inserted in the organs but the Soft robot begs to differ. The robot can be wrapped around the heart and the robot twists in order to assist the cardiovascular functioning and thus help in pumping the blood. The device has taken cues from the actual heart and is made up of thin silicon sleeve which is powered pneumatically by the actuators. The soft robot is driven by an air pump and has a different set of actuators, one for expanding and contracting the pumping motion and another to enable the twisting motion.
Most people with heart failure do still have some function left; one day the robotic sleeve may help their heart work well enough that their quality of life can be restored
– Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Frank Pigula
The robot has already been tested on Pigs whose heart output was reduced by 45 percent by administering drugs. With the device on the heart, output skyrocketed to 97 percent of healthy levels. Since the soft robot is an in vitro machine and does not come in contact with blood it eliminates the possibility of blood clots and thus patients needn’t take blood thinners. Frank Pigula explains how the cardiac field had shied from the idea of developing heart compression as opposed to blood-pumping VAD’s but now with the advancement in the soft robot the machine is a reality. It’s very likely that the robot will help thousands of patients who wait for heart donor as it will keep them alive till then, much like the Dialysis process for Kidney patients.
Moving on, the device is still in the nascent stage of development and needless to say it will be perfected after due course of time and perhaps an iteration of prototypes. The bottom line, however, is that the team believes that “mechanotherapy” is a promising avenue and may be able to simulate other organs as well. Also, the external machine like this one makes better sense than say a pacemaker which comes with a host of limitations.