Helping Patients Breathe Project to design easy to manufacture and reuse hood for oxygen delivery

The virus that causes COVID-19 attacks the airways and lungs, which means that people who are ill with the virus can have trouble breathing.

There are pieces of equipment to help these patients, including machines to assist their breathing, and tubes to deliver a flow of oxygen into their nose. Because of COVID-19 though, such equipment is in short supply, and in the case of high-flow oxygen, it may put the attending healthcare workers at greater risk of being exposed to the virus.

A new project called INSPIRE, co-led by NUI Galway's Professor Martin O'Halloran and Professor John Laffey with collaboration from Dr Conor Judge, will develop new and easy-to-manufacture equipment to help support patients with airway problems while minimising the risk to healthcare workers.

About the Project

The INSPIRE project will develop new and easy-to-manufacture equipment to help support patients with airway problems who are infected by COVID-19 breathe while minimising the risk to healthcare workers.

Patients with COVID-19 who are severely ill often need help to breathe, but equipment to do this is in short supply, and some may increase the risk of the virus spreading to healthcare workers.

The INSPIRE project led by NUI Galway will further develop a CPAP/BiPAP Hood that can help patients to breathe and that will be easy to manufacture and reuse, and comfortable for patients to use for long periods.

For patients receiving high-flow oxygen therapy, the project will also develop a vacuum-assisted face guard that will collect infectious droplets coming from the patient’s nose or mouth during treatment, reducing the infection risk for healthcare workers.

The initiative will involve an interdisciplinary team of academic researchers, MedTech engineers, frontline healthcare professionals and industry working together to develop these technologies.

By developing breathing-support equipment that is easy to manufacture and safe to use for patients with COVID-19, the project will reduce risk of infection to front-line healthcare staff and may help reduce the demand on more invasive, mechanical ventilators for patients.

Professor Martin O’Halloran, Director of the Translational Medical Device Laboratory at NUI Galway, says “This project shows what can be achieved when industry, academia and the HSE come together with a common goal of saving lives during the COVID-19 crisis. Uniquely, the Inspire team is composed of several founders of Irish MedTech companies, a team of NUI Galway researchers, and clinicians and healthcare workers from UHG. The glue holding this diverse team together is a shared commitment to making a real and tangible impact on patient care.”

The project is funded by Ireland's national COVID-19 Rapid Response Research and Innovation funding, via Science Foundation Ireland. #CovidResearchIreland

The project is assisted by Nua Surgical; Tympany Medical; Venari Medical; SymPhysis Medical; Endowave; plus support from Medtronic Galway

About the PIs

Professor Martin O'Halloran

Professor O'Halloran is a a Senior Lecturer in Medical Electronics in NUI Galway. He is also Director of the Translational Medical Device Lab, the first medical device lab in Ireland embedded in a regional hospital and co-located with the HRB Clinical Research Facility. Along with this, he is a Non-Executive Director at BioInnovate Ireland, a Health Innovation Hub Ireland Co-Lead, and a Principal Investigator with CÚRAM - the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Medical Devices.

Professor John Laffey

Professor John Laffey is the Professor of Anaesthesia at the School of Medicine of the National University of Ireland, and a Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at Galway University Hospitals.

His major research interest is centered on investigation of the pathophysiology of, and development of therapeutic strategies for, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).