Device aims to detect and monitor blood loss

Researchers at the University of Arkansas and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences are developing a wearable device to assist with the early detection and monitoring of internal and external bleeding.


According to U of A, haemorrhagic shock is currently the leading cause of preventable death in casualty care settings but existing methods often fail to detect blood loss until the onset of shock, thereby making early detection and management of bleeding-related conditions critical to improving survival. 

The team is designing a mobile device that can detect blood pressure waveforms, which correlate with the volume of blood within the blood vessels (the ‘intravascular volume’) and can be used to determine if blood volume is falling due to haemorrhaging.  

This will enable first responders and hospital staff to get more accurate readings earlier and respond with better timed and more precisely calibrated care. 


The principal investigator on the four-year award is associate professor of biomedical engineering at the U of A, Morten Jensen, who will be joined by Jingxian Wu, a U of A professor of electrical engineering, and Robert Saunders, an associate department head of electrical engineering and computer science.

Hanna Jensen, an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at UAMS and course director of the school’s cardiovascular module, will oversee the translational and clinical phases of the project. 

The team will first develop machine learning models and algorithms to analyse the pressure signals for blood loss detection. This will involve optimising learning algorithms with a small amount of data, developing real-time software and creating models based on physiological data. This will improve patient care by enabling accurate and efficient detection of blood loss. 

The team will then prototype and develop a cost-effective wearable device for detecting blood loss before finally, testing the device through clinical trials in a wearable configuration.  

In a statement, Morten Jensen, said: “Our similar educational backgrounds make it very exciting to collaborate with Jingxian Wu and Robert Saunders. I also served in the Danish military and know first-hand the importance of reliable equipment that works fast and is lightweight.” 

Saunders, a first responder in Madison County with the volunteer fire department, will construct, and then shrink, the prototype.  

He noted that the device would be extremely useful when medics arrived at an incident with multiple casualties and a limited amount of saline. 

The device would help first responders determine exactly who needs the fluid and how badly. The device would also remain attached to anyone involved in the incident in the event their blood pressure suddenly crashed due to a delayed reaction — at which point, fluids could be immediately administered. 

The team’s ultimate goal is to develop a device that is less than an inch square and sells for under $100. It would have a catheter that connects to a vein, plus a port to which an IV bag could be connected. 

The team is being funded with $1.9m from the US Department of Defense.