Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=166608
Story Retrieval Date: 5/23/2013 2:28:08 PM CST
The easy to use PocketCPR app gives feedback and prompts for effective chest compressions during CPR.
CPR app saves lives with digital ER
A new $3.99 iPhone app gives real-time feedback, instructions and prompts to life savers performing CPR.
Bio-Detek Inc., the Rhode Island-based creator of the PocketCPR and now the PocketCPR app, uses patented sensor technology to measure the depth and rate of chest compressions while a person administers CPR. The app works through the iPhone and an attached strap on the hand.
“As you do chest compressions, it literally shows you a gauge that tells you if you are going too shallow, too deep or just right and also provides messages to push faster or slower and when to give breaths,” said Mark Totman, president of Bio-Detek.
An updated app with improved graphics and animation is scheduled to debut in the next six to eight weeks.
The hope behind this app is to learn how to improve the quality of CPR and particularly the effectiveness of chest compression before professional help arrives, Totman said. “There are more people that die each year in the U.S. from sudden cardiac arrest than breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer combined.” He estimated the annual death toll at 400,000.
The app is designed with the assumption that the user does have prior CPR training, however. The feedback and prompts tell you what to do but not how to do. For example, the app prompts you when to give rescue breaths but it won't tell you how to properly tilt the head and lift the chin to deliver them effectively.
“We feel that the opportunity to save lives with this technology is very, very significant,” Totman said. Having access to this coaching and feedback on a commonly carried device, such as a phone, also enhances the product.
Treating cardiac arrest is hardly a game, but the CPR app is based on the same technology as the Nintendo Wii. The accelerometer within a smart phone measures motion in 3-dimensional space.
Currently the app must be held in a person’s hand while performing CPR, but iSkin, a company that makes protective phone covers and sleeves, is developing a cover specifically for this app that will have a strap, enabling a person to position the phone on the back of their hand while administering CPR.
While the popularity of this app is increasing, calls to the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago and Chicago CPR Now yielded no feedback on the app.
The first generation app was released last November at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting. Anyone can buy it and use it for CPR. But it doesn’t yet have the FDA’s clearance to be marketed as a rescue device so the app reads "training use only" when currently downloaded.
Totman said it’s only a matter of time before the FDA clears the app because PocketCPR - a rugged, stand-alone plastic device made by Bio-Detek that provides coaching messages for CPR - was approved three years ago. The pocket device uses the same technology as the PocketCPR app. The drawback of the pocket device is that very few individuals carry it with them all the time.
“It is a good tool to help get rid of the stresses of remembering things like how deep to go for compressions or how many compression to do,” said Jim Sheehan, the administrative director for MedFlight of Ohio and a paramedic of 27 years.
This app gives people added confidence that they are performing CPR correctly during emergency situations. “High quality, early chest compressions are critical to survival,” Totman said.
According to Sheehan, the chance of survival increases if someone who witnesses cardiac arrest administers CPR in the three to five minutes, which is often before professional help arrives. This app not only gives instructions, but also offers corrections if the CPR is not being performed properly.
Bio-Detek gives away the app for free at certain times, though it can be downloaded anytime for $3.99. the app has been downloaded 65,000 times in 60 different countries since it was first introduced.
The PocketCPR app is in compliance with the guidelines set forth by the American Heart Association and the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation, according to Totman.
“My ultimate grand vision for this technology is that five years from now anyone that buys a smart phone that has an accelerometer has the PocketCPR app running on it as a default application,” he said. “We can make significant improvements in saving lives.”