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Intrathoracic pressure regulation therapy device may help save lives on the battlefield

By Jose Rodriguez | U.S. Army Medical Department Center & School Public Affairs | Nov. 19, 2018

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-CAMP BULLIS, Texas —

The U.S. Army is continuously looking to new technologies and testing new devices to increase battlefield survival rates. The U.S. Army Medical Department Board conducted a test on an intrathoracic pressure regulation therapy, or IPRT, device at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis Nov. 7 that researchers hope will help save lives of the critically injured.

The IPRT device increases blood pressure and circulation to tissues of the body in ventilated patients who have low blood volumes. Cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, the IPRT noninvasively decreases intrathoracic pressure leading to an increase in blood circulation. 

It is beneficial for patients who have compromised blood flow from shock, high pressure in the brain, and other low-perfusion conditions.

The IPRT apparatus is connected to the breathing circuit of a ventilated patient, and it is beneficial for patients who have compromised blood flow from shock, high pressure in the brain and other low-perfusion conditions.

“The device draws blood back into the heart and lungs, while at the same time, decreasing pressure in the brain that caused swelling,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jacob Horspool, AMEDD Board noncommissioned officer in charge, AMEDD Center & School, Health Readiness Center of Excellence. “If a patient has a good pair of lungs, we can use this device to bring blood back without having to add additional fluids that can water down the blood.”

Soldiers from various Army medical units served as test players during the operational test in a simulated real world deployment scenario. For the test, the AMEDD board brought in potential IPRT users, such as a pulmonary disease officer, emergency medicine physician, physician assistant, nurses, combat medics, operating room specialists, paramedic/aero MEDEVAC specialists and respiratory specialists.

Conducting the test at JBSA-Camp Bullis allowed the team to use the device on various power sources within a combat support hospital and aboard field ambulances.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Goldie Cooper assisted with the tests and is also assigned to the AMEDD Board.  Cooper said that getting the mechanism field tested is an important first step to getting them purchased and added to the Army inventory.

Cooper stressed that operational testing is where the Army identifies whether the device is suitable for use in an operational environment.  It is estimated that 90 percent of potentially survivable deaths (approx. 1,080) in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) were caused by hemorrhage and hemorrhagic shock.

Spanning all documented wars, hemorrhage and hemorrhagic shock have been the leading causes of service personnel killed in action.

“Ultimately it’s about survival rates, and restoring lives on the battlefield.” Cooper said. “Every minute is valuable when we’re trying to save lives.”

Once the testing is complete, the AMEDD Board test team will prepare a summary report to assess the IPRT’s suitability and effectiveness. The device will go through several reviews to ensure it will meet the Army’s needs prior to approval and deployment.

To learn more about the AMEDD Board and other HRCoE initiatives, visit http://www.cs.amedd.army.mil/.