For effective protection from dangerous infectious agents, as well as coronavirus, the scientists of I. Horbachevsky Ternopil National Medical University have developed a unique prototype of a mobile respiratory protection system with forced airflow (a concept-model of a pneumatic helmet), which has no analogues in the world. The development was guided by Andriy Kovalchuk, Associate Professor of the Department of General Surgery. To study the level of biological protection, the assessment of permeability of the system and its individual components for viral, bacterial and toxic agents is strategic.
Pneumatic helmet – an innovative development of the TNMU scientists
Prevention from COVID-19 coronavirus infection of medical staff of infectious and resuscitation departments, family doctors and other medical workers, who contact with infected patients, is an urgent issue of contemporary medicine. According to the WHO recommendations, the most common measures for coronavirus infection prevention are social distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene. In medicine, personal protective equipment is used to protect mucous membranes, respiratory tract, skin and clothes from contact with infections. Suits, gowns, masks, respirators of protection class FFP2, protective goggles, shields and gloves must comply with the state standards.
Unfortunately, the use of these means does not provide comprehensive protection against infection. After all, every fifth person infected with coronavirus in Ukraine is a medical worker. In most cases, these are specialists involved in aerosol-generating procedures: the staff of resuscitation units and departments of morbid anatomy, intensive care units. The laboratory staff detecting COVID-19 coronavirus in biomaterials is also a risk group.
At present, the most effective individual protective equipment from infection are isolating suits, air-fed suits, air-fed hoods used in laboratories of the 3rd and 4th biosafety level when working with highly dangerous infectious agents.
However, the use of this protective equipment is possible in specialized laboratories with insulating locks and antiseptic aerosol systems and is financially unavailable for the national health care. Instead, commonly used personal protective equipment is far not ideal: expensive equipment, long equipping process, discomfort of use (visors fogging, mucous membranes drying, development of hypoxia due to prolonged use, etc.).
For the first time, the pneumatic helmet system combines a number of significant advantages and innovative solutions:
– fast self-help equipment (up to 20 s), simplicity and availability of use;
– low cost (in comparison with existing world high-tech protective equipment);
– compactness and mobility of the system of forced air supply to the contour, which is an integral part of the helmet;
– compactness and mobility of the air filtration system in the contour, which is an integral part of the helmet;
– compactness and mobility of the power supply system of the pneumatic helmet with the possibility of hot battery replacement;
– easiness, mobility, ergonomics of the pneumatic helmet.
Thus, the innovative system of protection from potentially dangerous infectious agents requires extensive research with a view to further improvement and mass production. Extensive clinical implementation of the respiratory protection would minimize the risk of COVID-19 coronavirus infection and offers new opportunities in the fight against the pandemic.