August 5, 2008

Hi-Tech Projects Make Life Easier for Sufferers

Swansea University is doing its bit to make life a bit better for lung disease sufferers, thanks to two projects currently running.

One of them, Haemair, is developing a device that supports respiration for patients with deficient lung function and, in the longer run, should provide an alternative to lung transplant.

The device directly removes carbon dioxide and adds oxygen to blood without using the lungs. The novel control system integrates with the body's natural control systems and, as patient oxygen demand increases, the device responds by providing oxygen faster and removing carbon dioxide faster.

At the same time, it adjusts blood-gas concentrations to mimic the concentrations that would arise from healthy lungs. In this way, conscious, mobile patients can be moved from intensive care into general wards. The ultimate goal is for patients to be allowed home.

The devices are aimed at both acute and chronic lung conditions. For acute conditions, such as Bird Flu and SARS, a complete recovery should be achieved in a few weeks, when the device can be removed.

Haemair officials are working closely with the emergency medicine team at Swansea's Morriston Hospital and regard the development as being particularly appropriate in South Wales, which has the highest rate of lung disease in the UK.

Haemair is closely collaborating with the university's medical school and its chemical engineering team and with Swansea NHS Trust.

Another university project sees people with chronic health conditions being supported by the new state-of-the-art health informatics research laboratory.

The lab, a collaboration with Informing Healthcare - the Welsh NHS IT programme - was launched this summer and simulates "in a room" the range of healthcare settings experienced by patients in Wales.

"It aims to analyse how the separate computer systems currently used in Carmarthenshire to support the health care of people with long-term illness can effectively talk with each other," said a spokesman.

"It will also look at how technology can make it easier for patients to receive care within their own community, such as innovations allowing nurses to remotely monitor patients' health."

(c) 2008 South Wales Evening Post. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.