‘Heart sleeve’ being developed to be used during heart failures

Harvard University engineers are coming up with a solution to get people’s heart pumping blood again during heart failure.

© Eric Schmuttenmaer at Flickr

Engineers from Harvard University are working on a soft air-powered robotic sleeve capable to twist and compress in sync with a beating heart, increasing cardiovascular functions after a heart failure.

According to A plus, the ‘heart sleeve’ differs from other ventricular assistance devices because it does not come in contact with the blood of the patient. Reducing the likelihood of infections and complications, it also avoids the use of drug therapies required to prevent blood clot formation.

The concept has been tested only on animals but has good potential for patients in need of transplant or those in cardiac recovery.

In the report by A plus, Ellen T. Roche, the study‘s first author and former PhD student at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, explains: “This research demonstrates that the growing field of soft robotics can be applied to clinical needs and potentially reduce the burden of heart disease.”

The ‘heart sleeve’ could also have exciting implications for non-cardiac patients as well. Co-author Conor Walsh told Harvard Magazine: “This work represents an exciting proof of concept result for this soft robot, demonstrating that it can safely interact with soft tissue and lead to improvements in cardiac function.”

“We envision many other future applications where such devices can deliver mechanotherapy, both inside and outside of the body.”

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