Johns Hopkins Team Wins Award for Improved Suit to Fight Ebola
Monday, December 15, 2014
For health-care workers taking care of Ebola patients in West Africa, one of the biggest logistical problems has been the “moon suits” they must wear to protect against being infected by the deadly virus. The suits are hot. Taking them off is a meticulous, multistep process that can leave no room for error.
Now, a protective suit designed by a team from Johns Hopkins has been chosen as one of the winners in a global competition for solutions to increase the protection and comfort of front-line workers battling Ebola. The competition was launched in early October by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the lead agency coordinating the U.S. government Ebola response.
The suit is easier to take off, and has a small battery-powered source to cool the user by blowing air into the hood, said Youseph Yazdi, executive director of Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design, which worked with Jhpiego, an international health nonprofit group and university affiliate, and Clinvue, a health-care innovation and design consulting company in Baltimore. If major manufacturers sign on, Yazdi and U.S. officials hope a version of the new protective suit could be on the ground within a few months.
The goal of the competition was to come up with solutions that could get into the field as quickly as possible, without costing a lot of money. So the team used the same lightweight material that major manufacturers are currently using. But they redesigned it so the hood and the rest of the suit are attached. And they re-positioned a zipper from the front to the back of the suit. They reconfigured the zipper with pull tabs that allow the wearer to unzip easily, so the suit essentially peels away.