Hybrid cooling solution for tetraplegics

Persons with a spinal cord injury are not able to control the temperature in (part of) their upper body. Moreover, they do not sense when their body is overheating and cannot sweat to cool down. Tetra- (and para-) plegics therefore have a much higher risk of heat stroke like injuries than able-bodied persons during hot weather conditions and intensive sporting. In this project a hybrid cooling shirt is developed which comprises four small ventilators and a water sprayer.

Figure 1: Thermogram of tetraplegics showing overheated upper body temperatures
Figure 2: Ventilators with directional outlet enabling optimal air flow
Figure 3: Implementation of water reservoir and dispenser ring in the shirt
Figure 3: Implementation of water reservoir and dispenser ring in the shirt
Figure 3: Implementation of water reservoir and dispenser ring in the shirt
Figure 3: Implementation of water reservoir and dispenser ring in the shirt
Figure 4: Testing of the concept using iButtons to measure the temperature. Half of the body is exposed to fan and water cooling, the other half to fan cooling only

The prototype was tested on an able-bodied person with a shirt equipped with four ventilators and the watering system only attached to one side of the body. The temperature was measured at two locations on the chest and two at the back. Figure 4 shows that after 30 minutes cooling the skin temperature for the fan-cooled body side dropped between 1 to 4 degrees whereas the combination of water spraying and ventilation resulted in a skin temperature drop of 9 to 10 degrees. It can thus be concluded that the hybrid cooling was much more effective than the cooling with fans only.

Figure 5: Final product

Project team

Graduate student

  • Elsemiek Aten

Supervision

    • Kaspar Jansen (chair) 
    • Margreet Beets (mentor)
    • Lennart Teunissen (expert)
    • Linda Plaude (Textile design)
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