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This New Device for Treating Wounds Sucks


You can get an acute open wound to heal more quickly by applying negative pressure—suction, in other words. The theory is that suction helps draw away bacteria, keeping a wound cleaner. And there are powered pumps made specifically for this "negative pressure wound therapy." The problem is that they're too expensive to be used widely in a place like post-quake Haiti, for example.

So Danielle Zurovcik, a student at MIT, has created a simple alternative:
The device, a cylinder with accordion-like folds, is squeezed to create the suction, and then left in place, connected to the underside of the wound dressing by a thin plastic tube. At that point, it requires no further attention: "It holds its pressure for as long as there's not an air leak," Zurovcik explains.
Her plastic pumps can be molded locally and cost $3 to make, as opposed to the $100 per day it costs to rent an electric negative pressure therapy pump. She's still fine-tuning the design, but her initial trials during the Haiti disaster relief effort were encouraging.