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.