Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Robotic Approach to Airway Management

The US Army through the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) has awarded Energid Technologies a follow-on contract to develop a robotic approach to airway management. After trauma or injury, airway management typically involves clearing a patient’s airway and inserting a tube to maintain oxygen flow in preparation for further treatment.

Energid will develop a handheld lightweight robotic system that can perform endotracheal intubation on the battlefield. Energid’s approach uses a novel flexible tube manipulator that quickly and safely deploys inside a patient’s airway. The mechanism integrates force feedback and video tracking for real time active motion compensation and control. It also provides needed feedback to the operator for correct intubation and active liquid clearance.

“The device that we are developing works through a unique technology that we have developed for actuating flexible mechanisms. With Energid’s technology, the device can be effective and lightweight,” said Dr. Pablo Valdivia y Alvarado, the Principal Investigator for the project.

Energid is applying the commercial Actin ™ robot control and simulation toolkit plus the Selectin ™ machine vision toolkit to support control of the innovative hardware used in the device. Advanced control will protect injured patients from the current risks of airway management.

“This technology will be helpful to newly-trained first responders that are deployed with a unit because they don’t have the help of others or responders with years of experience to fall back on. The nuances of endotracheal intubation can be difficult to perform under pressure, therefore a tool that can assist the provider in re-establishing an airway without injuring the vocal cords would be beneficial,” said Nita Grimsley, the project’s contracting officer’s representative at TATRC.