Simple NPWT for the Developing World: Congrats to MIT’s Danielle Zurovcik

Negative Therapy Pressure Systems: Simple Medical Invention Could Improve the Lives of Millions

By Jennifer Hicks | May 17th, 2010 View Comments

Zurovcik inventionA $3 device may just help wound patients with limited access to medical personnel heal faster. And, there are about 55 million people in developing countries who could eventually benefit.

Negative therapy pressure systems

Negative-pressure therapy is relatively standard in the U.S., but the devices are relatively heavy, require a power supply to function and rent for about $100 a day. The devices are often used for burns, diabetic foot ulcers and bed sores and other hard-to-heal wounds.

They’re basically vacuum-like devices that use negative pressure or suction to help cells regenerate. They also reduce the number of times the wound dressing needs changing—important in areas such as Haiti whose medical staff has been overburdened by dealing with victims of the earthquake.

Inventor Danielle Zurovcik goes to Haiti

And Haiti is where Danielle Renee Zurovcik, an avid sports enthusiast and mechanical engineering doctoral student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, got to test her toilet-plunger-inspired invention. It’s a simpler and far lighter version of the standard negative pressure device—and one that uses only a hand pump to create the seal around the wound.

Simple wound pump

She joined a medical team headed toward the disaster area where the group tested the simplified negative pressure wound therapy system on several people. The group was there for only a bit more than a week, so they are not sure whether the device helped speed healing, although they do think it helped keep the wounds cleaner.

Zurovcik is working to improve the pressure seal and the amount of suction the gadget delivers. When she is done, the device will be manufactured and then enter clinical trials in Rwanda, Africa and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

A squeeze bottle, a seal, a couple of tubes, a pair of hands– a simple concept and a device that millions of people greatly need.


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