21.05.2020 change 21.05.2020

Polish Engineers Develop Breathing Support Helmet for COVID-19 Patients

Photo: press materials Photo: press materials

Several different variants of a prototype breathing support helmet for with COVID-19 patients are currently being tested by doctors and students of the Medical University of Warsaw. After testing and certification, the devices can be sent to Polish hospitals.

The originator and coordinator of the project is anaesthesiologist Łukasz Wróblewski from the Central Clinical Hospital in Warsaw. Two engineering teams are involved in the work on this new solution: from the Military University of Technology and the Warsaw University of Technology. They cooperate with the Faculty of Industrial Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.

According to the Military University of Technology press release, the project is the response of Polish scientists to the recommendations of international intensive care societies regarding effective methods of treating respiratory failure in the course of COVID-19.

'This form of oxygen therapy and respiratory support seems to be a good alternative to other non-invasive ventilation methods, especially considering the need to limit direct contact with potentially infectious air exhaled by the patient. In Poland, this method of non-invasive ventilation is not widely promoted mainly due to the high costs of disposable helmets, and currently also due to the lack of purchase options', says Dr. Łukasz Wróblewski from the Central Clinical Hospital in Warsaw, quoted in the press release.

The main advantage of the breathing support helmet is the possibility of obtaining appropriate, tailored to the patient's needs, air pressure and oxygen concentration inside the helmet, which facilitates the patient's breathing.

'Connecting the oxygen line to the intake system allows to use oxygen in a concentration of over 90 percent. In addition, isolating the patient and filtering the exhaled air reduces the spread of the virus and the risk of infecting other people', explains Major Dr. Paweł Płatek from the Institute of Armament Technology of the Faculty of Mechatronics and Aviation,who supervises the work carried out at the Military University of Technology.

Employees of the Institute of Robots and Machine Design of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Military University of Technology are also involved in the project. As a result of cooperation of these two institutes, several variants of parts of the system supplying and removing air from the helmet have been designed and made. The technology of their production using 3D printing has also been developed.

"The use of 3D printing technology in the process of manufacturing structural elements allowed to quickly verify the initial structural assumptions and introduce necessary engineering corrections to improve the functionality and ergonomics of individual parts', says Kamil Cieplak from the Institute of Armament Technology of the Faculty of Mechatronics and Aviation of the Military University of Technology.

Making part sets and then assembling a large number of helmets and starting tests on a larger number of patients will be possible thanks to the purchase of equipment and consumables for 3D printers, carried out with the support of the Military University of Technology authorities, the Faculty of Mechatronics and Aviation and the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. The team performing tasks at the Faculty of Automotive and Construction Machinery Engineering at the Warsaw University of Technology and at the Faculty of Industrial Design of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw is responsible for the selection of materials for the helmet and the development of alternative solutions to facilitate quick access to patients in emergencies. Work was also underway to develop a prototype model of CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), necessary to ensure proper airflow in the helmet. This work is supervised by Dr. Przemysław Siemiński in cooperation with Dr. Jaroslaw Seńko.

As a result of the involvement and cooperation of teams from the Military University of Technology and the Warsaw University of Technology, and thanks to the support of company WATS from Bujaków (manufacturer of inflatable products), several different helmet variants have been created. They are currently being tested by doctors and students of the Medical University of Warsaw. After testing and certification, they can be supplied to Polish hospitals, where they will be used to treat patients with respiratory failure, the Military University of Technology reports.

PAP - Science in Poland

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