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When you ask someone what an inflatable is, it’s a safe bet they will talk about a bounce house at a party they were at or even an inflatable obstacle course from an office outing. While these uses of inflatables are certainly important in their own ways, there are inventions using inflatable technology in new way to help add safety and/or efficiency to different areas of life. In this vein, we have discussed using inflatables in seatbelts, racing suits and other applications.
This week, a particular usage of inflatables in the medical world jumped out at me because of its main usage. The Atlantic has a story about two physicians who have pioneered a tool for soldiers in the line of battle. It uses inflatable tech to stop life-threatening abdominal bleeding:
“According to the inventors, when a soldier is shot in the abdomen severe bleeding occurs due to rupturing of the major vessels in this region, making it a common target for insurgents and a difficult fix for the field medics.”
The restricted size of the abdomen makes it difficult for field medics to stop bleeding. Consider the simplicity of an arm tourniquet and then try to apply the same premise to a stomach – not very simple. The article says the physicians have developed a tourniquet that uses an inflatable wedge to stop abdominal bleeding:
“To overcome this problem, the physicians have come up with an inflatable, wedge-shaped bladder embedded into the abdominal aortic tourniquet. The device is wrapped around the body at the navel level, tightened and inflated into the abdomen until it occludes the aorta and stops the bleeding, hopefully increasing the chances of survival.”
As of this posting, testing has gone well for this inflatable device, with interest and approval (albeit pre-market) from both the FDA and military. Although the primary function of this invention was envisioned for military use in the field of battle, this is certainly a tool that could prove useful in hospitals and ambulances all over the country.