The survival rate for very premature infants, born at < 27 weeks gestation, is increasing, but these babies are at significant risk for developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a chronic lung disease characterized by abnormal lung tissue development as a consequence of exposure to mechanical ventilation. The application of non-invasive ventilation techniques has been effective at reducing the risk of this lung disease in more mature infants but has been less effective in the smallest and youngest group. A major cause is the increased chest wall compliance found in these babies. Improving wall compliance could reduce the need for ventilation and consequent lung damage.
In order to understand and ameliorate chest wall rigidity issues, the first step will be to establish a computer model of premature respiratory mechanics that can examine how changes in the compliance of the chest wall affect lung function over time. The model will then serve to test how applying different materials in different configurations might improve the respiratory outcomes, providing strong guidance for choosing a device prototype.
APDC will provide funding for the development of a computational model of premature respiratory mechanicsfor testing means to improve chest wall rigidity. .