Engineers have begun work on a system that can provide medical care to astronauts while in space, using funds from the US National Space Biomedical Research Institute.

The system will combine a lightweight trauma module system, which measures vital signs and serves as a ventilator, and iRevive software, which records the vital signs information and will allow caregivers to add observational data into the patient record.

The device could also be used in emergency rooms, at accident scenes and on battlefields, researchers added.

Project head John Crossin said the integrated system would be able to collect, monitor and fuse patient care information with physiological patient data, optimising remote medical diagnosis, ventilator support, intravenous fluid therapy and treatment options.

The research team plans to conduct a 40-patient clinical trial of the system in early 2011.

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