youbreatheTM is a device that utilises high-frequency occlusions to create vibrations in the air as it is inhaled. Dr David A Green and collaborators have shown that this can increase acute respiratory neural drive (Sumners et al., 2008, 2009) and after 5 weeks of its use in respiratory training can reduce dyspnoea when breathing is challenged (abstract; Morris et al., 2009).
Whilst all our previous work has been in health individuals we (in collaboration with Dr D Paul Sumners & Dr Ged Rafferty) have recently obtained a grant (from the Guy’s & St. Thomas’s Charity) to test and adapt youbreatheTM in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Thus, we hope via the optimisation of youbreatheTM to help alleviate some of the dyspnoea individuals with COPD experience – thereby increasing their quality of life. The principle may also be of use in increasing sputum expectorate release in conditions such as cystic fibrosis.
Circulation boosterTM stimulates the contraction of the calf muscles, thereby activating the naturally-occurring muscle pump which promotes the return of venous blood towards the heart during walking and running. However, circulation boosterTM rather than directly electrically stimulating the calf muscle, which can be painful and technically cumbersome delivers low currents (and hence painless) to the soles of the feet. This system could be particularly useful in individuals in whom venous pooling is a problem and have difficulties moving around or are bed-ridden.
We (in collaboration with Dr D Paul Sumners & Mr Steve Hunter) have shown that following induction of venous pooling in otherwise healthy individuals, stimulation to the soles of the feet alleviated pooling after 10 minutes of stimulation (Green et al., in review). We are now aiming to optimise the technology and stimulation profiles utilised prior to investigation in clinical conditions where venous pooling is manifest.
The Earlobe Arterialised Blood Collector
The Earlobe Arterialised Blood Collector or EABC is a device that enables the safe and efficient sampling of arterialised blood from the earlobe, as a substitute for direct sampling from a peripheral artery. The device is designed to be used in conjunction with a small mobile analyser unit and can thus give a range of results in a few minutes. Initially developed as a tool to enable collection of arterial blood in the microgravity environment of Space missions, the EABC is very adaptable to terrestrial use. The device is easy to operate and can be safely administered by anyone with minimal training (avoiding the need for a specialist medical professional), is virtually pain-free, portable, with there being a minimal risk of haemorrhage or infection. The device is subject to an international Patent (No. PCT/BR2007/000157) and is currently under discussion for future commercial development with a leading medical products company.
Body Suspension Device
A total Body Suspension Device (BSD) was designed and developed at the Microgravity Centre, Brazil as a tool to enable studies in the performance of cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) during hypogravity and microgravity simulations. Although various forms of such a device existed already, none had been designed with this particular aim in mind, and so a BSD specifically fit for this purpose was developed. The series of CPR researches conducted between the Microgravity Centre/Brazil and King’s College, London over the last decade constitute the best and most complete research for this topic.
Lower Body Negative Pressure Box
A Lower Body Negative Pressure Box or LBNP is designed to stress the cardiovascular system by drawing the blood towards the pelvis and lower limbs. Such devices have been extensively used in Space missions and for ground based studies. Although such devices already existed, an improved model was designed and developed incorporating many improvements: trolley assisted body insertion, an environmental control system, emergency pressure release button, and controlled air-flow.
Optokinetic stimulation DVD
The DVD includes individual sequences of an optokinetic disc or drum rotating at different velocities in varying directions and is divided into a beginners, intermediate and advanced level. A recent study completed in collaboration with Professor Adolfo M Bronstein and Dr Rosalyn A. Davies has shown the DVD can be an effective and economical method of providing optokinetic stimulation (OKS) exposure within a vestibular rehabilitation programme. This is an exciting finding as vestibular rehabilitation becomes more beneficial when incorporating OKS, however, the equipment used (i.e. homemade, expensive and/ or space consuming) in previous work (Pavlou et al., 2004) made it difficult to transfer this rehabilitation method into everyday clinical practice. The DVD overcomes this issue and is currently in the process of being copyrighted and commercialised to make it easily accessible to healthcare professionals working with vestibular patients.