Research is taking robotics to heart...literally

Fantastic news for those that have weakened hearts as a giant leap in robotics means that people will have safer and better help than other before.

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A joint research program with Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital has resulted in a new robotic sleeve that is soft to the touch and will wrap around the patient’s heart and assist in beating.

The robotic sleeve gets in sync with the pace the heart needs to beat and assists with the beating to make up for any weakness of the heart due to cardiovascular issues. The added benefit is unlike some current technologies; the new robotic sleeve doesn’t come in direct contact with the blood so it reduces the chance of blood clots and wouldn’t require the patient to take blood thinning medication.

Ellen T. Roche, the helped author the research, told the Harvard Gazette, “This research demonstrates that the growing field of soft robotics can be applied to clinical needs and potentially reduce the burden of heart disease and improve the quality of life for patients”.

Co-author Conor Walsh stated, “This work represents an exciting proof-of-concept result for this soft robot, demonstrating that it can safely interact with soft tissue and lead to improvements in cardiac function. We envision many other future applications where such devices can deliver mechanotherapy both inside and outside of the body,”

With heart failure affecting over 40 million people worldwide, this technology is a leap forward is offering safer assistance and treatment to patients. It will also help improve the quality of life allowing patients to remain active knowing they have the support they need. As Ms Roche stated, “This research is really significant at the moment because more and more people are surviving heart attacks and ending up with heart failure”. She added, “Soft robotic devices are ideally suited to interact with soft tissue and give assistance that can help with augmentation of function, and potentially even healing and recovery.”

Are these robots something you would feel comfortable being placed around your heart?