August 5, 2007, Updated September 12, 2012

The LuboCollar protects the neck by restricting the movement of the head relative to the rest of the body and also maintains an open airway in a non-invasive, simple and quick manner.The most critical time for any trauma patient is between the scene of the accident and the hospital. Trauma is the number one killer of people between the ages of five and 40, with the main factors being cervical spine instability and air blockage.

While emergency personnel routinely transport patients for treatment with a cervical collar to protect the cervical spine and ensure cervical spine stabilization, those devices don’t protect the airway of the patient, which if necessary, is opened by invasive means like tracheotomies.

For the first time, however, an Israeli physician has developed a device that both protects the neck by restricting the movement of the head relative to the rest of the body and also maintains an open airway in a non-invasive, simple and quick manner.

The LuboCollar, named after its inventor Dr. Omri Lubovsky and his sister Michal Peleg-Lubovsky, “has the ability to save lives and will certainly cut down on the number of emergency intubations currently performed by emergency aid personnel,” says Lubovsky, a physician in the department of orthopedic surgery at Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem.

Lubovsky told ISRAEL21c that he’s been focused on the issue of emergency evacuation ever since he served in the Israeli army.

“I was drafted as a paramedic into a unique save and rescue unit of the air force that dealt with evacuating patients. Ever since, I’ve had it in my blood that evacuation should take place as soon as possible,” he said.

“But there’s always the dilemma of how much should you do in the field and at what stage is it safe enough to evacuate? Obviously the goal is to do the minimum necessary before evacuation so the professional in the hospital can take care of the patient.”

In order to insure the prerequisite before moving a patient of spinal stability, a cervical collar is generally placed on the patient to protect the spine against movement. But, Lubovsky explained, to insure the second prerequisite of an open airway, it’s often required to insert a device into the mouth or directly into the trachea.

“In order to insert a tube – intubation – you need to be a professional. Usually only well-trained medics or anesthesiologists can do it. I’m a specialist in orthopedic surgery, but not in intubation,” said Lubovsky.

“Intubation is an extra complication and an invasive procedure that shouldn’t be necessary when you’re fighting the clock trying to get the patient the proper treatment. The ideal patient for the LuboCollar is someone who’s 10 minutes from the hospital, and not totally unconscious. Today, if you want to insure an open airway, you need to open an IV line, give him medication to knock him out, and do the intubation procedure. If you’re a specialist, it might take five minutes, but why lose that precious time, when in a few seconds, you can put on an external device that will do the same thing?

That question nagged at Lubovsky all the way through medical school at Hadassah and through his years as an orthopedic surgeon there. He began thinking about the need to develop a simple device that can keep the airwave open without having to insert a tube in the mouth or trachea.

“I was sure that something like that must exist and I just hadn’t heard about it,” he said, but he put the idea in his back pocket. Then four years ago, his younger sister Michal, who was finishing up a mechanical engineering degree at Tel Aviv University, needed to work on a final project.

“I told her, ‘look, I have an idea for this device’, so together we decided to try it.
She found a professor to guide her, who told her it wasn’t so complicated from a mechanical point of view,” said Lubovsky.

“When she finished the project – which we called the LuboCollar, we did some checking and were surprised to discover so many years later that there was still no medical device that did anything similar.”

The LuboCollar, according to Lubovsky, takes a matter of seconds to insert and is very easy to manipulate.

“There’s a small arc which holds the jaw in place and there’s a collar like a regular cervical collar. Then you have a “jaw-thrust”-like knob to maneuver the bones in the jaw, pushing them forward in the direction of the chin.”

The two Lubovskys took their invention to their respective development companies – Hadasit, the technology transfer company of Hadassah, and Ramot, the technology transfer company of TAU. And both companies agreed to help finance the development of a prototype.

“We really think this will be a highly marketable item – there’s nothing like it out there,” said Stuart Bernstein, vice president of marketing for Hadasit.

The third version of the LuboCollar has been fine-tuned and recently successfully completed a Phase I safety study. An efficacy study is now underway at Hadassah on anesthetized patients.

“I demonstrated the LuboCollar to some ER colleagues during a recent trip to the US The feedback was positive regarding the design of the device and its potential,” said Dr. Jacob Assaf, head of the department of Emergency Medicine at Hadassah.

“The need is obvious,” added Lubovsky. “All of the physical trauma specialists who we showed the prototype to were surprised at its simplicity and that nobody had done this before. I met recently with a specialist from Mass General Hospital in Boston and he confirmed that today there’s a strong tendency to reduce unnecessary intubations in the field. I’m sure this device is exactly what is needed.”


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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

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