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New ?Cooling Sock? Could Help Reduce Battlefield Amputations

Researchers
at The Strathclyde University, Glasgow, Scotland, have developed a new
treatment technique that could reduce the need for amputations on the
battlefield. The three-stage approach based on soldier experiences in
Iraq and Afghanistan, involves a new type of tourniquet and a ‘cooling
sock’ which preserves the limb from further damage.

Researchers
reviewed the current medical practice after Improvised Explosive
Devices (IEDs) led to a high number of traumatic injuries during the
conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The new tourniquet applies pressure
at different points on the limb, reducing damage to specific areas. The
sock is designed to be wrapped around the damaged limb to preserve it
from further damage until the casualty can be evacuated to a care
facility. Once at a hospital, a protective box supplies the affected
area with decontaminated air and maintains a blood supply. The team of
researchers has also developed a blood salvaging technique known as
HemoSep, which allows blood lost in surgery to be transfused directly
back to the patient, reducing the need for donated blood.

“We
looked at every stage of the journey an injured soldier follows after
injury to ensure our solution was designed specifically for them. The
system we have developed is essentially a life-support system for the
limb which gives doctors precious time to attempt to repair damage while
ensuring the safety of the patient,” said Terry Gourlay, PhD, head of
the research team and biomedical engineering at Strathclyde University.

Following
successful trials, the system is expected to be available commercially
soon. Researchers believe the device, which weighs about 11 pounds,
could also be used in non-military settings such as natural disasters.

Editor’s note: This story was adapted by materials provided by Strathclyde University.

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