Condom and Catheter Team up to Save New Mothers’ Lives

The title is sure to draw a snicker from some readers, but the purpose of this field-expedient treatment for postpartum hemorrhage is deadly serious, and a true medical hack that has the potential to save the lives of new mothers.

Postpartum hemorrhage is the leading cause of death during pregnancy, claiming about 86,000 women every year. While it can occur up to six weeks after giving birth, PPH is most serious immediately after delivery and can require aggressive treatment to prevent hypovolemic shock and eventual death. A fully equipped obstetrical suite will have access to an array of medications and devices to staunch the flow, including a uterine balloon tamponade (UBT) kit. But at $400 a kit, these devices are hard to come by in the developing world.

Not to be dissuaded, midwife [Anne Mulinge] from Nairobi, Kenya created a simple, cheap substitute using common items. A common urinary catheter is covered with an ordinary condom, the end of which is secured around the catheter with twine. Once inserted into the woman’s uterus, the condom is filled with saline solution through the catheter, expanding the condom and applying direct pressure to the bleeding uterine walls. The pressure allows the mother’s clotting mechanism to catch up with the decreased blood flow.

So far, [Anne] claims the device has saved three new mothers, and other midwives are being trained in the technique. Here’s hoping that more lives are saved with this simple hack, and perhaps with this more complex one designed to get blood to remote clinics as fast as possible.

Thanks to [LP Bing] for the tip.

The Importance of Electrical Safety

Everything you do bears some risk of getting you hurt or killed. That’s just the way life is. Some people drown in the bath, and others get kilovolt AC across their heart. Knowing the dangers — how drastic and how likely the are — is the first step toward mitigating them. (We’re not saying that you shouldn’t bathe or play with high voltages.)

This third chapter of an e-book on electronics is a good read. It goes through the physiology of getting shocked (DC is more likely to freeze your muscles, but AC is more likely to fibrillate your heart) and the various scenarios that you should be looking out for. There’s a section on safe practices, and safe circuit design. It’s the basics, but it’s also stuff that we probably should have known when we started messing around with electrons in bulk.

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Extreme Wire Buzz Game

Remember that old buzz wire game? Kinda like Operation, where you have to do a dexterous task without touching the walls… Well here’s a fun twist on it — what if you throw a 4 million volt stun gun into the mix?

That’s right, [Mike] was given a taser flashlight, and he had this brilliant idea to make a game out of it. The game features three metal wire sections which get progressively harder, with higher risk too! Using the handle, you have to guide an eye-bolt along the wire sections. But be careful — the circuit is live, and if you touch the metal, you’re going to get quite the shock!

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Shocking Operation makes sure you have skin in the game

operation-shocks-you

Odds are you played the game of Operation when you were a kid. The classic electronic toy challenges you to use a tethered tweezers to extract plastic pieces without touching the sides of the holes they’re hiding in. This upgrade makes the challenge more interesting for a grown-up audience. If you touch the sides you won’t hear a jarring sound, you’ll get a painful shock!

The modification starts by clipping off the melted plastic portions that hold the paperboard face plate on the game. From there the original electronics are completely removed. We think this a bit of a mistake as we’d still like spectators to hear the sound as the player gets a shock. But we digress. The circuit board from a disposable camera is patched into the game. A wrist band forms an electrical connection with your body, providing a path for the camera’s flash capacitor to discharge if you happen to touch the sides with the tweezers.

This write-up is missing one important thing: video of someone getting shocked. [Psycosisnine] promises to add some soon, but for now you’ll just have to fall back on our absolute favorite Mindflex shock project.

Shock sword works best on foes who fight with multiple blades

shock-sword

This project most certainly has some of Trailer Park Boys rolled into it. We say that because the living room is the only place this will ever been used and this guy’s reaction to getting shocked is exactly how [Ricky] would respond.

The sword on the left has an electronic stun mechanism built into it. it works by energizing two blades which are separated by nylon bolts and spacers. Look closely at the tip and you’ll see the blue glow which indicates high voltage. To shock your victim you have to touch them with both blades at the same time. This is demonstrated in one of the videos after the break. But the real pain comes when [Jonathan] — the guy who built the stun sword — touches it on either side with this pair of blades. His body completes the connection and his NSFW language tells the tale of how it feels.

This thing seems to pack a bit more of a punch than our own stun-gun enabled quadcopter.

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Hacking dog collars to save money on batteries.

[Lou] sent in this amazingly simple hack that has been saving him money on special batteries for his dog collar. He uses an invisible fence system which gives the dog a shock if it passes beyond certain markers in his yard. The collars use special batteries so you’re not strapping multiple full sized cells to your dogs neck. This is especially necessary when you have a smaller dog that doesn’t weigh much to begin with.

What [Lou] found was that the $8 replacement batteries were simply a plastic shell on a battery he could buy for considerably less. All that was required were a few small cuts to the plastic casing to release the old battery, then he presses the new one into place. This tiny modification will be saving him a considerable amount since the unit burns through a battery in a few weeks.

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PossessedHand controls hand with electrical stimuli

[Emi Tamaki], [Miyaki Takashi] and [Jun Rekimoto] at the University of Tokyo came up with a device called the PossessedHand that electrically stimulates muscles to train someone to play a the koto, a Japanese stringed instrument.

The PossessedHand ‘triggers’ individual fingers with precisely placed electrodes. Sixteen joints in the hand can be controlled independently by placing one electrode on the muscle that controls the joint and a ground electrode on the tendon of that muscle. Users of the PossessedHand reported no pain from the device when 30 Volts were sent though the electrodes.

The paper (PDF warning) goes into detail about the reactions of the users of the PossessedHand. While a few subjects thought the PossessedHand was scary, many enjoyed it – one subject even thought it was possible to fly a helicopter without training. While this isn’t downloading a rotary wing licence into your brain like The Matrix, the PossessedHand did prove to be a useful tool for learning the fingering for the koto. You can see a video of the PossessedHand in action in the New Scientist story.

[via New Scientist]