History of Ventilation: A Quick Look at the Making of Modern Ventilators

Looking for information on ventilators? Check out our article as we take a brief look at the history of ventilation and what led to our modern ventilators.

Are you curious about ventilators? With the current pandemic happening, you’ll find a lot of talk in the media about ventilators. But, did you know ventilators have had a rich history in the last 100 years?

From the iron lung to the modern ventilators equipped with microchips, there’s a lot to learn about in between.

In this article, we are going over the rich history of ventilation.

What is Mechanical Ventilation? 

Mechanical ventilation is the process of pumping oxygen into the body, which helps assist normal breathing. Modern ventilators are electronically controlled with microprocessors. This makes airflow and pressures precise for a patients’ needs. 

Ventilators assist patients who cannot breathe on their own or who suffer from a severe lung injury. 

History of Ventilation

The history of ventilation began with different versions. These versions were known as the iron lung in the early 20th century.

The polio epidemic of the 1950s is one of the greatest known events in history. Ventilators played a huge role in saving lives during this time. 

The iron lung was the only way to treat paralysis that halted the patient’s breathing.

The iron lung, also known as a tank ventilator, is a negative pressure ventilator that encloses the person’s body except for the patient’s head. The air pressure in the enclosed space helps stimulate breathing.

The iron lung treated people with polio and other respiratory diseases.

A Move to Positive-Pressure

In the 1960s, more research laboratories and hospitals moved away from negative-pressure ventilators. instead, hospitals favored positive-pressure ventilators.

These machines force air into a person’s lungs in a non-invasive way using a face mask or nose mask. These positive pressure ventilators were used for less severe breathing problems.

Modern Ventilators

Ventilator companies have taken ideas from past mechanical ventilation systems and have turned them into precise machines.

Positive-pressure breathing tube ventilators are the standard of care today. Modern mechanical ventilators are equipped with microprocessors and computers. They help compute the exact measurements of air a patient needs.

Ventilators are classified as life-critical systems. If they fail, the result maybe death. Because of this, modern ventilators use many precautionary systems to ensure they are reliable. 

Most ventilators are equipped with alarms, backup batteries, and monitoring systems to ensure they function properly.

Ventilation Needs Today

With millions of patients across the world fighting COVID-19, the struggle to breathe for many has been clear. Ventilators are in huge demand due to the pandemic, and there has been a limited supply of these machines.

The history of ventilation has become relevant. Decades of improvements on these machines and the refined knowledge amongst top medical experts are pushing the boundaries. These advances are making ventilators even more precise and efficient.

This will only help reduce the number of deaths of breathing-related illnesses and efficiently assist in therapy from respiratory illnesses.

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