Non-Newtonian Mattress for Neonates
US Patent #: US 16/026,241 (Patent filed)
What is the clinical need being addressed?
Newborn babies or Neonates, when born prematurely have very thin skin which is easily damaged. An illustration of how thin the skin actually is can be seen in the picture below. When a light is shined on the neonate's skin (a medical procedure called transillumination), the light passes through and through. Skin as thin as that of a neonate is susceptible to damage (rashes and cuts) from hard surfaces such as a hard mattress.
To avoid this, soft mattresses are used in Incubators and warmers where the mattress diffuses the pressure to the neonate’s back. This reduces the risk of cuts and lacerations to the neonate’s back.
However, this soft mattress comes with a downside. While giving chest compressions for resuscitation to the neonate, the same softness which diffuses the pressure to the neonate also diffuses the force of the chest compressions, rendering the therapy ineffective.
When chest compressions are given, hard mattresses are used. This brings back the problem discussed in the previous page where the neonate’s skin might get damaged. Another issue also crops up where the neonate has to be transferred from one bed to another to administer the chest compressions.
This transport between two beds is unwanted stimuli to the neonate and can be detrimental to its health.
Therefore, there is a need for a mattress that can be used for pressure diffusion (soft support to the neonates back) and for chest compressions (for cardiac arrest and resuscitation).
Various embodiments of the mattress
To realize this concept the following designs were envisioned:
The Final Prototype
A snapshot of the final prototype I developed by using an existing mattress and making an inlet using a breathing mask. To test the concept, I used cornstarch and water (which forms a non-Newtonian fluid).