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Wireless power could cut cord for patients with implanted heart pumps
Date:7/12/2011

e receiver gets further away, you get less power," Smith said. "But with this technique there's a regime where the efficiency actually doesn't change with distance."

In what Smith calls the "magic regime," power stays constant over distances about the same as the diameter of the coil meaning a one-foot transmitter coil could deliver consistent power over a distance of a foot, or a four-inch coil could transmit power over a distance of four inches.

That's not far, but it's enough to bridge the skin and tissue to reach a medical implant.

Four years ago, Smith's system attracted the interest of a heart surgeon who had been experimenting with using traditional induction to transfer power, but was hampered by misalignment, unwanted heat generation, and ranges that were limited to a few millimeters.

"My primary interest is to help heart failure patients recover, and they can only recover if they are not tethered to a battery or external power supply so they can exercise and train their heart to recover," said Dr. Pramod Bonde, a heart surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "With wireless technology patients can be free and they can have a chance to move around and exercise like normal human beings."

Using the wireless system means no power cord poking through the skin, dramatically reducing the risk of infection and improving the patient's quality of life. Researchers envision a vest that could hold an external transmitter coil connected to a power cord or battery. A small receiver coil implanted under the patient's skin would connect to a battery that holds enough power for about two hours, meaning the patient could be completely free for short periods of time to take a bath or go for a swim (current users of heart pumps cannot do either). Longer term, the researchers imagine additional power transmitters placed under a patient's bed or chair, allowing patients to sleep, work or exercise at home unencumbered.

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Contact: Hannah Hickey
hickeyh@uw.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert  

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