One thing we all recognize from watching medical dramas on TV, visiting a loved one in the hospital, or being a patient ourselves, is the ubiquitous IV drip on a metal pole. You’ve seen patients walking down the hall with them, or lying in bed as an IV is administered. But have you ever stopped to consider how such a commonplace hospital mainstay limits patient mobility? The traditional IV pole makes walking, showering, eating, sleeping, and even getting into an elevator challenging, which is especially vexing for patients requiring a long-term hospital stay.

Now someone with that very experience has created a portable, wearable IV that allows patients to move around more freely. Alissa Rees, who at 19 was diagnosed with leukemia and spent two years in the hospital, designed the IV-Walk. Her experience of being tethered to an IV with limited ability to get exercise and otherwise conduct daily human functions inspired her to create the wearable. The soft, flexible IV is designed to be worn over the shoulders of the patient; fluids are stored in pouches and pumped through a tube into the hand. The device can be unzipped to reach the inside, where the infusion pump, infusion wire, and infusion bag can be installed by the patient, with the supervision of a nurse.  The IV-Walk enables patients to walk, shower, get exercise, and otherwise enjoy increased mobility. One of Rees’ main aims with the wearable is to help patients get fresh air and exercise, an important part of the recovery process.

The IV-Walk system will allow patients to experience increased mobility, more independence, and better quality of life. The ability to exercise and get outdoors during long-term treatment creates space for optimal healing, and may potentially bring down healthcare costs. The IV-Walk won the Accenture Innovation Award 2017 and will be internationally launched at the CES 2018 in Las Vegas January 2018.