Portuguese company provides masks for patients with dysphagia

The Portuguese company Simoldes has decided to put on the market the masks that researchers from the Faculties of Medicine and Engineering of the University of Porto (U.Porto) developed a year ago to protect patients with swallowing difficulties, it was now disclosed.

“It is a particularly useful equipment for hospitals and retirement homes, especially in cases of ageing people that are institutionalised or in-patients and who can, during mealtimes, eat their food with the mask on”, explains the researcher of the Biomechanics Laboratory of Porto (LABIOMEP) and professor at the Faculty of Medicine, José Manuel Amarante, quoted in the information sent to the Lusa agency.

At stake is a mask that aims to serve as individual protective equipment in different situations, namely, in cases of patients who present dysphagia or alterations in oral motricity after a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), among other pathologies.

This mask has been developed by a team of researchers from the Faculties of Medicine (FMUP) and Engineering (FEUP) of the University of Porto, collaborating with the Hospital Center of Entre o Doura e Vouga.

One year after the creation and presentation of a prototype, this mask will be developed and placed on the market by Simoldes, a Portuguese multinational company that produces plastic components for the automotive industry.

According to the researcher from the Institute for Science and Innovation in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (INEGI), Joaquim Gabriel Mendes, this equipment is made of two parts: an upper part fixed to the patient’s forehead and a removable lower one, which grants free access to the patient’s oral cavity without them having to remove the whole mask.

“It can also be connected to a suction system”, explains the professor of the FEUP.

According to information about the project sent to Lusa, the research that resulted in this equipment was based on concerns related to the constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a reality that remains current, refer several team members.

“”If we look back a little bit and take into account that in 2002, we had SARS-CoV-1, in 2012, MERS-CoV and in 2019, SARS-CoV-2, we realise that we are responding to a problem that is going to continue in the future”, says Catarina Aguiar Branco, physiatrist at the Entre Douro e Vouga Hospital Centre and lecturer at the Porto University Faculty of Dental Medicine (FMDUP), who took part in the tests, monitoring and validation of this device.

FMUP professor Miguel Pais Clemente also highlights the “set of professors, researchers and partners involved [in the project] who wanted to study the problem associated with COVID-19 in terms of personal protective equipment, having worked to present a solution that was the subject of a patent”.

The executive director of Simoldes, Rui Paulo Rodrigues, considers that “this is a good example of what can be done to support health professionals, who have been heavily sacrificed during this pandemic” and highlights as “fundamental” the collaboration between and its outcome can only be positive.

A patent application, for this invention, has already been submitted, for protection of intellectual property to the National Institute of Industrial Property, through the office of knowledge transfer U.Porto Innovation.

Image credit: University of Porto

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