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Soft Robotic Device Aids Failing Hearts
Researchers have developed a silicon-based robotic device that, by stiffening or relaxing when inflated with pressurized air, may one day help improve cardiac function in patients. The team, which was led by investigators at Harvard University and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, notes that the device can be customized to patient-specific needs and may have the potential to support patients with heart failure as they wait for a transplant or undergo cardiac rehabilitation and recovery.
Composed of nonrigid, biocompatible materials, the apparatus acts like a sleeve that fits around the heart. Through remotely controlled actuators, it can twist and compress the heart’s chambers to mimic the organ’s natural compression motion. The robotic sleeve also contains sensors that measure pressure at specific points on the heart’s surface to allow for careful monitoring.
Unlike current ventricular assist devices that use tubes to carry blood out of the heart and to the blood vessels, the apparatus does not come in contact with blood. Therefore, it does not …