Scientists have created a breakthrough system that could save the limbs of millions of soldiers injured on the front-line.
The portable system, dubbed a ‘life support for limbs’, helps save damaged tissue and reduce the need for amputations.
It does this by allowing medics on the battlefield to apply targeted pressure while keeping the limb at a low temperature soon after injury.
The technique has been developed by researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.
It has been created in response to the experiences of military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan where explosive devices cause traumatic injury.
The first stage of the treatment sees a novel bandage applied to the limb, which applies pressure at different points, reducing pressure and damage to specific areas.
A cooling ‘sock’ is then wrapped around the tissue to preserve it from further damage until the casualty can be evacuated to a care facility.
Once at a hospital, the limb is then placed inside a protective ‘box’, which can sustain the area while doctors attempt repairs.
The protective box has specially decontaminated air to reduce infection, and continually supplies the affected area with blood.
Following successful trials, the system is set to be available commercially, and could one day form part of the medical kit in every front-line unit.
Professor Terry Gourlay, Head of the department of Biomedical Engineering at Strathclyde University, said: ‘We looked at every stage of the journey an injured soldier follows after injury to ensure our solution was designed specifically for them.
‘The system we have developed is essentially a life-support system for the limb which gives doctors precious time to attempt to repair damage while ensuring the safety of the patient.’