Gallery: $3 Healing Device Speeds Up Wound Treatment


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.

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.



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  1. Wendy Finch April 19, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    I have applied thousands of NPWT treatments and I can say this “inexpensive” treatment will require daily drsg changes = more pain. Standard KCI NPWT can be done every three days. The inexpensive treatment is also a constant pressure with limited drainage collection. studies have shown intermittent pressure is best. I have had paients with high draining wounds and by the picture above that dressing would never stay in place.

  2. Nicholas April 17, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    I had to use one of those suction devices after I developed a leg infection from surgery. It was expensive, loud, uncomfortable and required frequent charging. It boggles my mind that there was a $3 solution that seems superior but these big companies never thought of it. I hope this makes life easier for folks around the world.

  3. darthmijo April 17, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    What are they thinking? Probably of ways to screw people out of more money.

  4. Calvin K April 15, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    This design warms my heart and it proves that when there is a will, there is a way. The companies that charge $100 / day for a similar device probably never bother to invent a dramatically more affordable solution. I wonder what those companies are thinking now.

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