Low-cost CPAP breathing device

Medical Devices

A group of scientists, engineers and doctors from Leeds University, Medical Aid International, the Mengo Hospital (Uganda), Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, have created a low-cost breathing device.

The medical device delivers continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This is a method of oxygen therapy that has aided patients who were experiencing breathing problems due to moderate to serious covid.

“We have stripped away unnecessary complexity and ensured the device will work in settings where oxygen supplies are scarce and need to be conserved“

The group explained that a trial assessment including 10 fit volunteers has revealed the device “can be used safely without inducing hypoxia [low levels of oxygen in tissues] or hypercapnia [build-up of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream] and that its use was well tolerated by users, with no adverse events reported”.

An important focus in the innovation process was producing the basic airflow levels through a basic electric fan. This was imperative to work in high-pressure air and oxygen supplies that can be difficult to obtain.

The system offers a safe stream of airflow that works without control systems or a high-pressure source of air. This helps create airflow necessary to open the individual’s airways without nasty side effects.

Nikil Kapur, Professor of Applied Fluid Dynamics at Leeds University explained “We have stripped away unnecessary complexity and ensured the device will work in settings where oxygen supplies are scarce and need to be conserved. The prototype is an important step in developing a device that will create greater access to critical-care technology and help save lives.”

The study’s lead author, Dr Pete Culmer, said “The Leeds prototype has been specifically made to work with oxygen concentrators. The fan or CPAP blower is connected to…a breathing circuit. That circuit is made up of a filter to catch viruses and bacteria in the air flow, tubing, face mask, a valve which controls the flow of oxygen from the oxygen concentrator, and an expiration outlet.”

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