U.S. Army scientists roll out innovative blood loss monitor device

Scientists at the U.S. Army Combat Casualty Care Research program are developing a device that can monitor for blood loss compensation.--Courtesy of U.S. Army

As researchers target innovative technology geared toward military use, U.S. army scientists are developing a device that could monitor how long an individual is able to compensate for blood loss.

Dr. Vic Convertino, a senior scientist for the San Antonio, TX-based U.S. Army Combat Casualty Care Research program, and a team of researchers are working on a small device that allows trauma medics to see when a patient's body reaches the point of "decompensation," or can no longer offset blood loss. The device, which is clamped to the end of a finger, measures heartbeat and provides readings on a smart tablet through a cable, Stars and Stripes reports. Eventually, the researchers plan to use wireless technology with the monitor, allowing medics to look at one tablet for readings on multiple patients.

The device could offer an advantage over the current pulse oximeter technology, which also clips onto the finger and measures pulse rate and the amount of oxygen in the blood. Unlike pulse oximeters, the U.S. Army researchers' device can predict decompensation ahead of time, potentially improving early intervention.

"So now in real time we can determine those features and therefore determine the changes in the reserve to compensate for blood loss," Convertino said, as quoted by Stars and Stripes. "When reserve gets to zero, that's when people go into shock and we can actually determine how much of that reserve is left way early so that we give medics an early indicator."

To build the technology for their device, U.S. Army scientists simulated bleeding on human volunteers for more than a decade. The team created software with an algorithm that can predict how well people can compensate for blood loss based on different individual's responses. Scientists then teamed up with robotics engineers at the University of Colorado to come up with a way of measuring the data.

If all goes to plan, the blood loss monitor will get FDA clearance by the end of the year, Convertino told Stars and Stripes. In the meantime, the researchers are working with the obstetrics department at a Texas-based army medical center to monitor for postpartum hemorrhage. And the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is already using the device on casualties and to collect data, Convertino added. Preliminary findings from the IDF collaboration are expected this month.

- read the Stars and Stripes story