Requiring oxygen can be a difficult change in a person’s life. Patients are being diagnosed with medical conditions like COPD at younger ages and are not ready to give up an active lifestyle.
This is forcing engineers to design more oxygen therapy equipment that promotes mobility among patients. Lighter tanks, less invasive delivery apparatuses, and longer oxygen time are increasingly important features for enhancing a patient’s care and quality of life.
Benefits and drawbacks
Liquid Oxygen (LOX) and Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POC) are the two main forms of oxygen therapy, and while both have their benefits and drawbacks, POC is more and more becoming the preferred choice among patients.
Liquid O2 is stored in small, compressed tanks at -300° and transforms to gaseous oxygen when heated. One liter of LOX offers about 860 liters of gaseous oxygen, and LOX is available in a variety of tank sizes. Tanks are relatively small and lightweight compared to other compressed oxygen types, allowing patients to carry several. Still, this does limit a patient to how long they can be mobile before having to come home and refill their tanks.
Refilling is the biggest drawback to LOX. When a home refill unit is exhausted, the patient must wait for a supplier to come to the house to fill it back up. This drives up the cost of liquid oxygen systems.
The main advantage to a POC is that it doesn’t require oxygen tanks. The device works by taking ambient air and stripping certain elements, like nitrogen and argon, and supplying users with ~93% pure oxygen. Because it requires no storage reservoir of pressurized oxygen, it is lighter than LOX, and recent advances in POC development allow them to be built less cumbersome than previous models, increasing independence, convenience, and mobility.
However, because the unit must essentially generate its own oxygen, this puts additional burden on the unit, which runs on internal batteries, automobile adaptors, or standard electricity. This need for a continuous power source can make some patients feel tied down, especially when the batteries have been drained. Still, the cost benefits seem to be outweighing the power drawbacks, as liquid oxygen is falling off in favor of POC.
Parker develops industry-leading oxygen therapy solutions that are reliable, smaller, and lighter weight than competitor products. For information about Parker’s oxygen therapy devices and other respiratory therapy solutions, visit Parker BioCare.
New product design and development engineers are a precious limited resource for many companies, and the increasing demand to get medical device products to market leaves little time and budget for design optimization. In order to get exceptional products to market without overextending R&D budgets, companies need immediate access to the latest technology available, experienced development teams, and a focused project management approach.
There’s where Parker Hannifin’s BioCare Business Unit comes in.
With more than 90 years of experience and more than 3,200 product lines in nine core technology markets, we have a proven track record of giving our customers the support they need to develop revolutionary components and systems that solve the toughest motion and control challenges in areas like:
• Respiratory Care
• BioFluid Management
• Preventive/Recovery Care
Through collaboration and partnership with Parker’s BioCare Business Unit, we can set new standards for your innovative products with accelerated speed to market, without compromise.
Contributed by Todd Lambert, Program Manager – Medical Systems, with Parker Hannifin’s BioCare Business Unit.