Rice University undergraduates have developed a quick and easy way to numb the skin, making shots virtually pain-free.
And it could be a value enhancement that might differentiate pharmacy vaccination clinics from those provided by all other health professionals.
Getting the flu shot is one of the many rituals that comes once a year, inoculating the population against a potentially life-threatening disease.
However, for some, especially children, the experience can be frightening and painful.
That may soon change thanks to a Rice University students’s 3D-printed invention.
The Comfortably Numb is a simple device that numbs the skin to decrease the sensation of the injection.
The team of three freshmen, include Andy Zhang, Mika Hua, and Greg Allison, developed this easy-to-produce mechanism to create a portable and ready to use ice pack.
The small device is composed of a 3D printed cylinder containing two chambers, one with water and the other with ammonium nitrate, and a metal plate attached at one end.
When the device is activated by twisting the top, the two chambers open and the chemical reaction that occurs cools the metal plate, just like a cold pack.
From there, a physician or other medical worker places the plate against the skin to numb the are and then inject the vaccine.
While ice packs serve the same purpose and are more readily available, the Comfortably Numb is just the beginning of a bigger project.
Eventually, the team hopes to develop a device that will numb and inject with one go, making vaccinations, shots, and injections of any kind painless and quick.
After all, as Allison says in a statement released by Rice University, they are still just freshman engineering students:
Because we don’t have these incredibly refined skills in certain areas…that meant that we had to think of very simple solutions.
Being limited in that way led to something that is very novel and innovative but at the same time simple and elegant.
Because of the advancements and declining costs of 3D printing, the Comfortably Numb could be easily available in large cities and small rural areas, as well as in various countries around the world.
The device is small and easy to pack, and because of the twisting unlocking system, there’s little chance that the device could activate before it is needed.
It may seem like a small contribution to medical technology, but pain-sensitive people around the world will be thankful for it, especially come flu season.
To see the device in action and here from its creators, watch the video below: