Fact: the healing process can be sped up dramatically by applying suction (AKA negative pressure) to bandage-covered open wounds. No one knows why this works, but doctors think it might keep wounds clean by drawing fluid and bacteria elsewhere. Whatever the case, negative pressure system dressings can be kept in place for days at a time, all while speeding up healing. Up until now, the $100 per day rental systems have been out of reach for the developing world, but MIT student Danielle Zurovcik recently developed a negative pressure pump that costs just $3 to build.

healing device, suction, mit, haiti, rwanda, design for health, green design
Zurovcik’s hand-powered suction-healing system is easy to use: just squeeze it and leave it in place on the wound. The plastic molded pump is connected to the underside of the wound dressing by a plastic tube. Zurovcik’s system can hold steady for days, so users don’t have to worry about it falling off. And while the device is somewhat clunky in its current incarnation, Zurovcik is already working on a pocket-sized version that can be concealed under clothing.

The doctoral student has already tested out the device on patients in Haiti with great success. Zurovcik’s next trip will take her to Rwanda, where she will test the smaller version of the system. And after that? Presumably Zurovcik will try to send her device to disaster-stricken locations around the world.