The moments following a traumatic injury are surreal. One minute, life is normal; the next, everything pivots to a new reality. This is especially true in the military, when battlefield wounds happen in a blink. Sometimes, military injuries are even worse because the tools to help save severely injured limbs can be as rudimentary as plastic wrap or water-soaked bandages.
Now, Battelle and Halyard Health are working on a $14.4 million, four-year contract awarded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to produce a medical device that can help improve the odds of saving as much tissue as possible. The product also can have a profound effect on traumatic injuries in the civilian world.
Known as the Acute Care Cover for Severely Injured Limbs (ACCSIL) project, the contract calls for the development of a conformal cover that protects the injured limb while providing a therapeutic cocktail that mitigates damage and promotes tissue survival. “It will be carried by the corpsman and medics and administered at the point of injury on the battlefield,” said Dr. Tim Bentley, ONR’s Program Manager. “It will be designed to be lightweight and keep the wound fresh and maintain tissue condition for up to 72 hours, which is particularly important as we plan for future scenarios where prolonged field care will be required.”
Battelle’s intended device will integrate highly effective active medical ingredients, enhanced wound dressing materials and the healing power of oxygen into a small, convenient, lightweight package that can be used in conjunction with a tourniquet.
“When a limb is severely injured, the best practice is to encase it as-is and get it to a surgical theater as fast as possible,” said Joe Berger, Vice President in Battelle’s Consumer, Industrial and Medical Technologies group. “Believe it or not, what’s being used now to address such injuries actually promotes the growth of harmful microorganisms and necrotic tissue. With this project for ONR, we can make something much, much better. And it’ll have plenty of applications in the civilian world.”
The Battelle Protective Oxygenating Wrap for Enhanced Recovery (POWER) is light, portable and will provide an environment that suppresses microbe proliferation and also promotes tissue health by delivering O2, thereby improving recovery time and quality of life of the traumatically injured soldier.
“Successful development of this system will provide military medics a solution currently unavailable to them,” said Kelly Jenkins, a Director of Battelle’s Advanced Materials group. “Today, they have to improvise. This device will be so much better.”
Aside from warfare, urban violence and domestic terrorism present a real need for first-responders to have access to such a product. “The best example that comes to mind is the Boston Marathon bombings a few years ago,” said Jenkins. “Unfortunately, this probably won’t be the last example of such an occurrence. Battelle has the solution to improve the medical treatment in such a case.”
The ACCSIL project will begin with design concepts already in development and progress through the prototype stage by late 2017.
This is the second time recently that Battelle has developed a medical device for the government. In 2013, Battelle experts and a team of subcontractors began work on $23 million Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency project to produce a device that will be used to treat sepsis.