Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can cause a viral pneumonia with additional complications, one of which is Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). Since no specific therapy exists for ARDS, treatment strategies are limited to supportive care, including non-invasive or mechanical ventilation to provide the patient extra oxygen.
It has been demonstrated that oxygenation can be significantly enhanced through ventilation applied in prone position instead of supine position. Despite its beneficial effects, prone positioning (PP) is a very difficult practice which requires a large number (3-6) of highly trained healthcare professionals and can present risks and complications, such as accidental removal of the endotracheal tube, drains, or catheters, as well as the development of pressure sores. Because of this it was rarely adopted and just in extremis, i.e. when the supine ventilation didn’t work and the patients’ health conditions were already critical.
Nevertheless, the recent spread of COVID-19 caused a rapid increase in the use of PP, not only as last resort but also to prevent ventilator-induced lung injury and clinical worsening.
Our aid system consists of air mattresses to facilitate patient turning, connected to a control system and to a portable monitor that gives step-by-step instructions. The device can be adapted to most hospital beds and help in making the practice easier, more efficient and safer in three ways:
- Physically assisting and supporting the healthcare staff during PP
- Coordinating the manoeuvres
- Avoiding human error