Soft Inflatable Robot Hugs Heart To Keep It Pumping

Heart failure occurs when an individual’s heart stops effectively pumping blood, resulting in the organ shutting down. Approximately 5.7 million Americans suffer from heart failure, and with no cure, it costs the nation approximately $32 billion annually. A research team at Harvard University designed a soft, air-powered robot that hugs the heart to help keep it functioning normally, in order to strengthen different heart ventricles and prevent additional heart issues.

The robot consists of a hollow, expandable, silicone sleeve which slips over the heart tightly like a cocoon. The device then inflates and deflates at the same rate as the user’s heartbeat, restoring regular blood circulation to the user. When tested, the robot was able to return blood flow to the stopped hearts of six pigs.

Though the device has currently shown short-term success in animals, the team still has much more work to be done in order to have it ready for human trials. Current tests revealed inflamed tissue on the pig’s hearts where the device was secured with suction, which has caused the research team to design an adhesive to keep the robot in place during its operation.

Currently, doctors use ventricular assist devices (VADs) to keep a patient’s heart pumping, however this method involves direct contact with the patient’s blood, resulting in clots without the use of blood thinners. If the robot tests continue to show success in the future, doctors will have an alternative method to prevent heart failure with less risk.

Medical devices, like this inflatable heart assistance robot, require an efficient and reliable assembly processes to produce high quality products that ensure maximum patient safety. Eclipse Automation offers an abundance of Life Science solutions, from prototype systems to custom integrated clean room applications, which can improve product quality and optimize your current operations.

Source: Popsci