U of M Unveils New Device in COVID-19 Fight

U of M Unveils New Device in COVID-19 Fight Click to Enlarge Photo: Chris Hogan (University of Minnesota)

(KNSI) - The University of Minnesota has unveiled another piece of hardware that may help fight COVID-19.

The "procedure box" is an enclosure with hand ports on it for medical professionals to stand behind to prevent the transmission of the virus, while still having a clear view of the patient they are working on.

Chris Hogan, professor of mechanical engineering at the U of M says they have made three versions of the device.

The most recent two versions, generation 2 and generation 3 are being tested for use in medical settings. Generation 2 is already being used in the M Health system.

The major difference between the two devices is that generation 3 added a HEPA filter and suction to pull away any particles that could be infectious.

Hogan says the original design came out of Taiwan. His team enlarged the device and made better hand ports to accommodate patients of most sizes.

He says the version without the filter could allow for particles to escape, even after the patient is gone when the device is removed.

The version with the filter could allow doctors to use less personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face shields which are in short supply in the wake of COVID-19, according to Hogan.

"There are so many procedures that could benefit from this type of local negative pressure environment. We have started to look into dental procedures, for example as they've started to reopen dental offices," says Hogan.

He says there is a team more than just himself working on this project including Dr. Bernard Olson, Austin Andrews, Dr. Yensil Park, and Ian Marabella from mechanical engineering; Dr. Kumar Belani, Dr. Gwen Fischer, Dr. Hai-Thien Phu, and Dr. Asish Abraham from the medical school; and Ron Bystrom, Peter Ness, Robert Jones, and Nathan Walkington from the machine shop.

Hogan says the next step for generation 3 is to send it to doctors to use with patients.