The national library of Israel on the Givat Ram campus, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Hebrew University students have developed a life-saving device to cope with pneumothorax, a medical emergency of collapsed lungs in stabbing attack victims.
The condition, caused by chest trauma, involves the collection of air in the pleural space separating the lung from the chest wall, causing it to collapse and causing the victim to suffocate. Pneumothorax is believed to be responsible for more than a third of preventable deaths on the battlefield and in terrorist attacks.
The current treatment involves two steps: a fast needle decompression of the thorax (between the neck and abdomen, where the lungs and other vital organs are located), followed by a 10-minute tissue separation and tube insertion procedure into the chest to drain air and blood, allowing the lung to re-inflate.
“This is a very laborious and technically difficult procedure,” said Dr. Ariel Drori, an internal medicine expert at the Hadassah University Medical Center, “leading caregivers to neglect the second step in favor of rapid evacuation from the scene to the hospital.”
The need for a solution was made evident by a current wave of stabbing attacks that has left dozens of Israelis dead and hundreds of them wounded.
Members of the BioDesign: Medical Innovation program, created by Hebrew University and the Jerusalem hospital, set out to solve this problem. The result was ThoraXS, a one-handed thoracic portal opener that shortens the procedure time of chest-tube insertion from minutes to less than 30 seconds. Its closed knife-shape allows fast penetration of the pleural space, and its mechanical opening mechanism enables rapid and easy opening of a portal through which a chest tube can be quickly inserted. ThoraXS is thus a single-step, rapid life-saving solution for treating pneumothorax.
The researchers included, besides Drori, engineering students Yoav Kan-Tor and Bettina Nadorp, Dr. Liran Levy, a Hadassah pulmonologist, and Chen Goldstein, a Hebrew University MBA student.
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Prof. Yaakov Nahmias, director of the Hebrew University’s Alexander Grass Center for Bioengineering, said: “Our students responded to terrorist attacks by developing life-saving medical devices, an approach that is the very essence of our BioDesign: Medical Innovation program. ThoraXS is a life-saving innovation that exemplifies our commitment to helping the local and global communities through practical research and development projects.”
Nahmias added that its annual market potential was estimated at $300 million and that continued investment is actively being sought. The innovations produced by the Biodesign program participants are commercialized by Yissum, HU’s technology transfer company, and Hadasit, the R&D company of the medical center.
HAVE A SEAT? When people realized the harm of sitting at their office desks for hours on end, some bought sit-stand desks that were claimed to expend calories and give them an aerobic workout while working. But according to a new Cochrane Review article, the health benefits of such desks to reduce sitting at work is still unproven and uncertain.
Millions of people worldwide sit at a desk all day, leading to increased levels of physical inactivity in the workplace. Health experts have warned that long periods of sitting can increase the risk of heart disease and obesity. A team of Cochrane researchers updated a systematic review that looked at the effects of different strategies to encourage people to reduce the amount of time they spend sitting at work.
Examining 20 studies with a total of 2,174 participants from the US, the UK and Europe, they found only low-quality evidence from three non-randomized studies and from three randomized studies that people who used them sat between 30 minutes and two hours less, compared to when they used conventional desks during the working day. Sit-stand desks also reduced total sitting time, both at work and outside work, and the durations of sitting episodes that last 30 minutes or longer. Standing more did not produce harmful effects in the studies, such as musculoskeletal pain, varicose veins or a decrease in productivity.
Lead author Nipun Shrestha from the Health Research and Social Development Forum in Nepal commented: “Given the popularity of sit-stand desks, we think that people who are considering investing in sit-stand desks should be aware of the limitations in demonstrating health benefits.
“We need further research to assess the effectiveness of different types of interventions; the evidence base would be improved with larger studies, longer follow- up and research from low-income countries.”
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