Neural Tourniquet

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  • 2022

Designed By:

  • Kathy Ky

Commissioned By:

Kathy Ky

Designed In:

Australia

The Neural Tourniquet is designed for paramedics to use in emergency situations where rapid bleeding control is required to save lives in the critical minutes following a traumatic injury. The device uses TENS technology to stimulate the cervical vagus nerve, proven to stop uncontrollable bleeding in under a minute.


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Image: Jade Pham
  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • Existing solutions, including tourniquets and haemostatic products for wound packing, are not efficient in cases of multiple traumatic injuries. Common tourniquets are only suited for limb injuries, whilst haemostatic products which expand inside the open wound are extremely invasive and must be surgically removed post-application. Furthermore, the effectiveness of these products in stopping the bleed is significantly reduced in patients who suffer from bleeding disorders or those taking blood thinners. For a future shaped by minimally invasive healthcare, how might we harness the power of bioelectronics to breakthrough in trauma emergency responses and improve patients’ outcomes?

  • The solution is a cervical Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) device that uses electrical stimulation to stop traumatic bleeding in a single application. Electrical VNS at the left neck muscle stimulates a specific neural pathway that enhances the body's innate immune response to injury. This process involves rapidly increasing blood clotting factors at the open cavity; forming a natural 'plug' that can stop bleeding in less than a minute. Supported by pre-clinical studies from the Feinstein Institute, this non-invasive neurostimulation method has been proven to significantly reduce the amount of blood loss by 50% with promising potential on addressing internal bleeding.

  • Over the next two decades, bioelectronic medicine is predicted to drastically transform the medical industry and multiple disciplines. For example, the small and portable device can be equipped on army soldiers to rapidly staunch bleeding from multiple traumatic injuries on the battlefield. Moreover, the device has a significant impact in the civilian setting, where violence and accidental injury remain the leading causes of death worldwide. Patients with haemophilia may also benefit from quick intervention by applying the device to themselves and perhaps during surgical repair where haemorrhage is a major cause of trauma mortality in the operating theatre.

  • - Rapid. The adhesive is connected to a microswitch that immediately activates the device once peeled off. Once activated, two electrodes stimulate the Vagus nerve with a signal that switched on and off between 1-5 times per second. The recommended stimulation time is between 1-60 mins. Further research is needed to validate the most effective electrical parameters. - Ergonomic. A slight bottom curvature ensures comfortable attachment and complete contact of stimulation surfaces to the neck. - Hypo-allergenic and Conformable. The medical adhesive has gentle adhesion to the skin and high fluid resistant; ensuring skin attachment in all weather conditions. - Miniaturised and weatherproof(IP65). All internal components are compacted and secured with screws and mounting holes. - Inviting and Intuitive. Soft curves inspired by the shape of neurons and visual cues for correct device placement. The Neural Tourniquet was designed with careful considerations for the circular economy and environmental sustainability in healthcare. It is single-use, recyclable device consisting of two components: a disposable adhesive layer and an electrical component to be disposed of as e-waste for materials recycling or battery replacement where possible. Designed for disassembly, discarded electrical and plastic wastes can be recovered at the waste facility and absorbed back to the broader recycling economy.