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Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital researchers have developed a customizable soft robot that fits around the heart and helps it beat, potentially opening new treatment options for people suffering from heart failure.

The soft robotic sleeve twists and compresses in sync with a beating heart, augmenting cardiovascular functions weakened by heart failure. Unlike currently available devices that assist heart function, Harvard’s soft robotic sleeve does not directly contact blood. This reduces the risk of clotting and eliminates the need for a patient to take potentially dangerous blood thinner medications. The device may one day be able to bridge a patient to transplant or help in cardiac rehabilitation and recovery.

“This research demonstrates that the growing field of soft robotics can be applied to clinical needs and potentially reduce the burden of heart disease and improve the quality of life for patients”.

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