Motorized Web Will Keep Hearts Beating
A specially-woven web developed by researchers from the University of Leeds may be able to keep your heart beating - without transplants or mechanical implants.
(Motorized heart webbing)
Although heart transplantation has come a long way, it is both expensive to get and to maintain - the recipient must use immunosuppresive therapy for the rest of his life to prevent tissue rejection. Also, there simply aren't enough hearts.
Mechanical implants have been shown to be brutal on gentle body tissues; high speed turbines cause damage to cells within the blood, increasing the chances of clotting.
However, the heart fabric is made of biocompatible materials, which will not be rejected by the body. It's motorized webbing will gently squeeze the heart from the outside and does not come in contact with the blood stream.
(Motorized heart fabric implanted)
The webbing wraps around the heart and therefore does not come into contact with the blood stream. Inbuilt sensors recognise when the heart wants to beat and trigger a series of miniature motors which cause the web to contract – increasing the internal pressure and assisting the heart to pump the blood around the body.
“It’s a really simple concept that works in the same way as when you squeeze a plastic bottle, forcing the liquid inside to rise,” says PhD student David Keeling who has built a special rig to test the device.
The device is currently at prototype stage with team using a computer simulated model of the human blood flow circuit coupled to David’s mechanical rig. The rig replicates the motion of the heart within the simulation under different conditions, and allows the team to test their web device. The group is currently testing their latest prototype, aiming to refine design and assist strategies. Says David: “We’ve been looking at finding the optimum timing to trigger and also length of the compressive squeeze.”
From Leeds press release via Motorized fabric for cardiac assistance.
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