Around 600 million people worldwide are afflicted with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Mobile oxygen system devices improve the mental and physical ability of patients as well as their quality of life. Japanese company Musashi Medical Laboratory supplies easy-to-operate regulators in smartphone format for these oxygen system devices, thus significantly improving comfort and handling for patients. Compact piezo valves from Festo provide for quiet oxygen supply.
Patients with COPD suffer from shortness of breath because the damaged lung is no longer capable of filtering enough oxygen out of the air. Consequently, many of them depend on long-term oxygen therapy. Mobile oxygen system devices such as oxygen conservers supply patients with adequate amounts of oxygen.
Musashi Medical Laboratory took a new approach to designing the oxygen conserver: they separated the flow regulator – with the brand name IVY – from the oxygen bottle so that it can be held conveniently in the hand for operation. Its size and weight are comparable to those of a smartphone, and it can be comfortably carried directly on the patient’s body in a shirt or trouser pocket.
The regulator is compact and light, not least of all due to Festo’s proportional valve VEMR which regulates the supply of oxygen via the tubing. A further advantage of the piezo valve is that its switching operations are inaudible. Even error messages, which are usually indicated by an acoustic signal, are less unpleasant because initially the regulator simply vibrates.
The device is matched to the patient’s respiratory rate. A sensor ensures that the regulator detects inhalation. The right amount of oxygen is then mixed with the respiratory air. During inhalation, the sensor detects a pressure drop and transmits a signal to the regulator which in turn opens the proportional valve VEMR. Oxygen then flows from the oxygen bottle – not uninterruptedly as with other devices, but only for as long as the patient is inhaling. As soon as inhalation has been completed, the valve shuts off the supply of oxygen. Oxygen consumption is thus much more efficient. The oxygen bottle doesn’t have to be refilled as often. The patient’s range of action is increased as a result. And what’s more, thanks to the energy-efficient piezo valve, the device’s operating time is considerably extended before the battery has to be recharged.
With piezo technology oxygen can be administered to patients gently instead of jerkily. “This is much more pleasant for the patient”, explains Tokuyama San, Managing Director of Musashi Medical Laboratory and adds: “We’re very pleased to be the first company in Japan to be able to make use of a piezo valve in a medical device, which provides the patient with significant advantages.” Musashi Medical Laboratory received an innovation award for this device in the MEDTEC fair 2016 in Tokyo.