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Artificial Soft Robotic Skin-Assisted Congestive Heart Failure

Dr Thanh Nho Do, Institution: University of New South Wales

2020 Vanguard Grant

Years funded: 2021-2022


Recent advances in clinical cardiology have improved longevity for heart failure (HF) patients that are unnecessary to justify. For patients whose heart strength becomes severely compromised, ventricular assist devices or artificial heart replacement are preferred. However, traditional assistive devices are largely blood contacting which increases the risk of stroke while promising cellular therapies are limited by poor retention and engraftment of cells in cardiac tissues. Although current direct assistive devices which use elastic actuators wrapped around the falling heart have shown promises to improve the cardiac outputs, they are not able to adapt to the heart surface to provide complex actuation in desired directions, have bulky size, large skin incision, low efficiency, high noise.

Furthermore, they do not meet desired cardiac output due to the lack of insufficient compressive force, force sensing, and the synchronisation ability with the beating heart. To address these unmet needs, we will develop and test innovative, miniature, conformable robotic system with embedded force sensor that can anatomically wrap around the failing heart via the use of new soft artificial muscles oriented in a biomimetic manner to reinstate the natural heart motion with tuneable active support from miniature controller.

The system can be programmed to relax and contract and can automatically synchronise with the beating heat along its natural force vectors via a closed-loop control. The proposed device affirms safe synergistic interaction with the heart and can be customized to adapt to patient-specific needs while maintaining desired cardiac output with less complications, overcoming major challenges on the bulky size, cardiac output, and control from existing devices and also the shortage of donor hearts. The project results can serve as a bridge to transplant for the HF patients, leading to an extremely substantial shift with positive impact on practice and patient outcomes.

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