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Design optimization of a non-invasive, user-friendly phrenic nerve stimulation technology for diaphragm activation by STIMIT AG.

 

STIMIT is the first company to develop a non-invasive, user-friendly product to train the respiratory muscle, the diaphragm, through targeted electromagnetic stimulation. The goal is to keep the diaphragm active and functional; holding to the motto “Use it or lose it!”

 

The Swiss MedTech Center from Switzerland Innovation Park Biel / Bienne has been working on the development of their technology since 2019.
Mechanical ventilation over a longer period leads to respiratory muscle atrophy or dysfunction after a short time, potentially leading to lung damage. With electromagnetic stimulation of the respiratory muscle nerve, the diaphragm shall actively be contracted. For ICU patients, who are generally artificially ventilated, mechanical ventilation is a life-saving measure and standard treatment. This has been impressively demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

TIMIT is convinced that active stimulation of the diaphragm can shorten hospitalization with respect to weaning time from mechanical ventilation, reduce life-threatening complication rates.

The collaboration between the Swiss Medtech Center and STIMIT began in 2018 with initial discussions about Ronja Bruhn’s new project idea. In 2019, together with the partners ETHZ (Exercise Physiology Lab), BFH (Institute for Human Centered Engineering) and Inselspital (Department of Intensive Care), an Innosuisse application was submitted. This aimed to perform systematic, physiological, and technical clarifications to identify the factors for the most effective, non-invasive, magnetic phrenic stimulation. The project resulted in a functional STIMIT coil with user-­friendly STIMIT coil positioning aid.

The project successfully ended in a follow-up Innosuisse project, which started in December 2020 together with SIPBB, BFH and STIMIT.

The aim of the project is to build a diaphragm activation feedback system and to optimize the coil positioning aid further for a patient-specific, reproducible, and highly efficient therapy, which will be validated by means of a clinical study at a renowned, international clinic.

 

SIPBB and SMTC Competences

STIMIT was supported in the following fields:

  • Mechanical and usability engineering
  • Industrial and Human Centered Design
  • Electronic Engineering
  • Simulations (mechanical, thermal and electromagnetic fields)
  • Rapid Prototyping by the Swiss Additive Manufacturing Center (3D Print) department and mechanical workshop
  • Building of In-Vitro Test-Setups
  • Design Verifications and Validation In-Vitro
  • Project management within interdisciplinary project team

 

News from STIMIT
The innovative medical technology company was acquired by the leading international company Drägerwerk AG and Co KGaA in April 2021. Dräger acquires the majority shares in STIMIT AG and thus further expands its expertise in the field of lung-sparing ventilation. The multinational company is active in medical and safety technologies.
Commenting on the sale, founder and CEO Ronja Bruhn said, "With Dräger at our side, we will create clinical evidence to establish a novel therapy to serve patients."
To which Dräger's Head of Therapy, Stephan Kruse, added, "STIMIT is working on a solution that does not yet exist on the market. By acquiring a majority stake, we are securing a head start in the development of non-invasive stimulation of respiratory muscles."
STIMIT will work with Dräger in the coming months to further develop the product and conduct clinical trials.

SMTC and SIPBB are proud to have played our part in this positive business development and look forward to further collaboration in this new context.

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