Patients with neuromuscular diseases often can’t clear their airways adequately because they have difficulty coughing. According to a 2016 study by the Rehabilitation Institute of Neuromuscular Disease at Yonsei University College of Medicine, cough impairment is inevitable with neuromuscular diseases due to dysfunctional respiratory muscles. In 2016 we wrote about Hill-Rom Holdings VisiVest that provides high-frequency vibrations to help loosen material in a patient’s lungs and help with coughing. Unfortunately, existing cough assist machines and devices are generally heavy, complex, and costly.

Engineering students from Grand Valley State University created a lightweight cough assist device. The students worked with Bassel Salman, a Michigan pediatrician who specializes in critical care at Beaumont Health in Royal Oak. Salman noticed his patients needed a cough assist device that was more affordable and portable. The GVSU students’ device, which is patent pending but not yet named, is portable, lightweight, and made of plastic and vinyl. The cough assist device, which runs without electricity, includes a tube attached to a face mask and two tubes to control air pressure and volume. Designed as a project by GVSU students majoring in manufacturing engineering and product design, the device will be produced by TechBank Medical, a Shanghai-based medical commercialization organization via a commercial licensing agreement.

According to TechBank CEO Brad Yang, the device will allow people in developing markets such as China and India to get relief from their disease’s respiratory system clogging symptoms with the simple, low-cost design.