Dr Ellen Roche has won international acclaim for her work in creating a soft robotic sleeve for patients who live with heart difficulties.

Based in NUI Galway, Dr Ellen Roche and a team of fellow researchers published a paper earlier this year detailing how the field of soft robotics can help a patient with heart failure live for much longer, thanks to a sleeve placed around the affected organ.

Using externally controlled soft pneumatic actuators to mimic the outer muscle layers, the sleeve gives the heart regular squeezes – similar to a regularly functioning heart – with no chance of the patient’s blood supply potentially being harmed through the rerouting process.

“Luckily for us, cardiac device engineering has advanced a lot in recent years, and we can see different trends in the way cardiac devices are changing,” Roche said on stage at Inspirefest 2017.

Words by Colm Gorey