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As reported in MIT Tech Review ...

In mid-February ... after a massive earthquake leveled much of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a wound-care team from Brigham and Women's hospital in Boston traveled to the devastated capital...

... The team's task was to help care for scores of patients suffering from the large open wounds that accompany amputations, crushed limbs, and other injuries. Among the team was MIT graduate student Danielle Zurovcik, who had developed a cheap and portable version of the negative-pressure devices currently used to speed wound healing in hospitals...

Pumping wounds:
Researchers hope that a simple bellows pump attached to a tube that’s applied to a wound dressing can generate enough negative pressure to spur healing.
Credit: Danielle R. Zurovcik

... Negative-pressure therapy decreases the need to change wound dressings from one to three times per day to once every few days ... provide a way to improve care for patients after the emergency phase of relief efforts ... says Kristian Olson, a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston (and, a leading Member of CIMIT - a Triple Helix consortia clinicians, scientists & engineers), "Not only do I see it answering this need in developing countries, I think it could really enhance home therapy for chronic wounds in the U.S."

... A number of commercial versions are available in the U.S. and are used to treat burns and chronic wounds such as bed sores or diabetic foot ulcers ... Existing devices are often heavy, about five to 10 pounds, and require an energy source to create the vacuum, making them difficult to apply in disaster settings...

... Zurovcik, inspired by a burn surgeon's plea, went a step further, designing a human-powered device that applies pressure via a simple bellows pump weighing less than half a pound ... cut the pump's power requirements ...  and, costs about $3 ...

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