Health Beat

Health Beat: Treating fallen troops: 2 new battlefield devices

Health Beat: Treating fallen troops: 2 battlefield devices

Two new devices could help save soldiers' lives on the battlefield. 

Soldiers put their lives on the line every day, and often, they can't carry much with them. So two new, very portable devices are now helping.

First, there's the tourniquet. 

"About 3,000 U.S. military casualties have been saved with the tourniquet since the beginning of the war," said Dr. John Kragh, tourniquet specialist with the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research.

While the materials have improved, Kragh said "tourniquets haven't changed in 2,000 years."

That's why he and Jose Salinas, manager of intensive care research for the  U.S. Army's Institute for Surgical Research, want to change that.

The new technology is called the "intelligent tourniquet."  It has a pump and sensor system that can be controlled wirelessly.  It can be activated by simply clicking a button.

"It can determine how much pressure it needs based on the limb to stop blood flow.  It will always maintain accurate pressure," explained Salinas, adding that it could be carried by medics or even built into uniforms.

The second new piece of technology is a wireless vital sign monitor that weighs just one pound.

"It's extremely portable," said Salinas. 

It keeps track of basic vitals like heart rate and blood pressure. Wirelessly connect it to a laptop, tablet, or smartphone and you get more detailed readings.

"With this system, you bring the power of a full vital signs monitor to the front lines," explained Salinas.

The wireless vital sign monitor is FDA-cleared and is even available for civilian EMS use, but the device is not yet on the battlefield. Salinas hopes it will be in the next two years.

The intelligent tourniquet is still in the early prototype stage.

DOWNLOAD and VIEW research summary

DOWNLOAD and VIEW the full-length interview with Dr. Jose Salinas about treating fallen troops.

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