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Innovative Device That Allows Two COVID-19 Patients to Be Ventilated by Single Machine to Help End Worldwide Ventilator Shortage

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 11 Oct 2021
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Image: The Eucovent (Photo courtesy of University of South Florida)
Image: The Eucovent (Photo courtesy of University of South Florida)

A prototype device that allows two patients to be ventilated by a single machine could help solve the critical shortage of lifesaving ventilators seen around the world throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Eucovent, a patent-pending device developed by biomedical engineering graduates from the University of South Florida (Tampa, FL, USA), is being seen as a lifesaving medical innovation. Among the novel solutions to problems with co-ventilation, there are existing devices capable of “splitting” airflow to multiple patients, although most available solutions do not offer any type of customization. This is particularly problematic as patients require different volumes of airflow depending on their lung compliance and body weight, among other factors. For example, a 150-pound woman might require substantially less airflow than a 250-pound man.

To solve this, the team of biomedical engineering graduates employed two primary techniques: dynamic resistance and time multiplexing. Dynamic resistance refers to an obstruction that restricts the amount of air delivered to each patient. To accomplish this, the group fabricated custom valves that can be independently adjusted to meet each patient’s individual airflow needs. By using time multiplexing, a common digital signals technique, the device can alternate between patients, efficiently delivering breaths to each person independently. Along with these two primary solutions, the team members had to utilize all of their undergraduate research experience for the project. Using their knowledge of biomechanics, along with such methods as 3D printing, computer programming and modeling, as well as computer-aided design, the group was able to complete and test the prototype with much success.

The relevance of such a device became clear during the COVID-19 pandemic, as hospitals around the world struggled to provide ventilators to every patient who needed one. The Eucovent effectively doubles a hospital’s existing capacity without having to purchase additional ventilators, which can cost upwards of $15,000 per unit. The team says its use reaches far beyond the current pandemic, with applications in natural disaster settings, remote locations and low-resource areas. The team now team plans to publish this work and continue to improve the design while they await patent approval.

“We believe the Eucovent provides many benefits, including cost and safety,” said USF student Carolyna Yamamoto Alves Pinto who helped develop the device. “Compared to a new ventilator, the device is extremely low-cost, making ventilation more accessible and affordable. It also offers a higher level of patient care compared to existing solutions, making it a safer and more reliable option for co-ventilation.”

Related Links:
University of South Florida 

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