How a Canadian device aims to help COVID-19 patients breathe with ease

·2 min read
Dr. Clive Davis, left, and Dr. Jay MacDonald, right, are pictured here testing an early prototype of the Canada Hood, a ventilation device in development to help COVID-19 patients in respiratory distress.  (Dr. Jay MacDonald - image credit)
Dr. Clive Davis, left, and Dr. Jay MacDonald, right, are pictured here testing an early prototype of the Canada Hood, a ventilation device in development to help COVID-19 patients in respiratory distress. (Dr. Jay MacDonald - image credit)

As vaccination continues, some patients with COVID-19 are still in intensive care units fighting for their lives under respiratory distress.

A Canadian project wants to change that and researchers in Windsor and Hamilton are working on a ventilation device that aims to ease the suffering of COVID patients experiencing some of the worst symptoms of the virus.

The device is called the Canada Hood and it is a non-invasive ventilation device that makes it easier for people struggling to breathe to get the oxygen they need to survive.

Windsor researchers include emergency physician Dr. Jay MacDonald and former ER chief at Windsor Regional Hospital, Dr. Rob Woodall. Dr. Clive Davis is with Hamilton Health Sciences and is an expert in respirology and intensive care.

Both MacDonald and Davis also work in hyperbaric medicine which looks at how oxygen can be used at different pressure levels to treat conditions like acute respiratory distress that may be caused by COVID.

Dr. Jay MacDonald tries out the Canada Hood prototype.
Dr. Jay MacDonald tries out the Canada Hood prototype. (Dr. Jay MacDonald)

The researchers are working in collaboration with St.Clair College to test out prototypes of the Canada Hood.

Wendy Foote is a professor with the College's Respiratory Therapy program and she is leading the testing effort with the team.

"What the hood does — it's like a clear marshmallow over your head — we can increase the pressure, so that patients are breathing in an atmosphere of a slightly elevated pressure." She adds, "What that does is it helps to keep our lungs open and that helps to improve oxygenation."

Foote also says that the device can be used to prevent patients from reaching a critical stage that would require invasive intubation to be treated.

Wendy Foote is a professor at St.Clair College and is working on the project to test out how effective the prototype models of the Canada Hood are.
Wendy Foote is a professor at St.Clair College and is working on the project to test out how effective the prototype models of the Canada Hood are. (St. Clair College )

The hood also protects healthcare workers while they do their jobs. "It actually has a seal at the neck and helps contain the patient's exhaled gases and it's filtered, so that we weren't exposing healthcare workers to an infected environment."

The device has existed in various forms before and a version was used in some European countries as the pandemic was declared last year.

At the time, Canada was unable to pursue the option of developing the ventilation device because of limited manufacturing capabilities.

The Canada Hood project hopes to make improvements to existing models and plans are in place to have local respiratory therapists in Windsor-Essex test out the device in June and July this year.