A system that could save soldiersâ limbs after injuries from devastating explosions was developed by biomedical engineers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. The development work was funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).
Amputations are prevented by a three stage technique that combines three devices: a novel tourniquet that is applied to the limb, applying pressure in different points to reduce pressure and damage to specific areas; a cooling sock that is wrapped around the limb to prevent further damage before evacuation; and a protective box with decontaminated air and a continuous blood supply to the limb that will help limit the infection and keep the limb alive as doctors operate in hospital.
Weighing only 5 kilograms, the system is designed for use by combat medics. However, not only soldiers could benefit from this technology, but also those affected by natural disasters or accidents in remote locations.
âWhile this technique may not be right for every injury, it is a hugely important innovation that could save the limbs of many more of those affected,â said DSTL adviser Neal Smith. âItâs a fantastic example of where we work with academics to fund life-changing research which has been turned into a product to improve the quality of life of those injured in service.â
If the trials prove successful, then the system will be available commercially and maybe one day it will become part of the medical kit in every frontline unit.
âWe looked at every stage of the journey a soldier follows after injury to ensure our solution was designed specifically for them,â said Terry Gourlay, head of biomedical engineering at Strathclyde University. âWhat 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.â