HERL Designs, Manufactures PPE During Pandemic

The Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) industry knows the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) mostly for its work on mobility-related assistive technology, particularly high-end wheelchairs.

But during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, HERL has been doing its part to keep frontline healthcare workers safer.

A July 8 article in VA [Veterans Affairs] Research Current, a news bulletin for the Research Office of the Department of Veterans Affairs, described how HERL has detoured to manufacture Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies for VA Medical Centers.

The story by Mike Richman, VA Research Communications, says HERL is producing nasal testing swabs, face shields, and desk shields.

HERL was also involved in developing “an enclosure-like structure on wheels that can be rolled from one hospital bed to another to protect healthcare workers caring for patients.”

While most of the equipment is being used by staff and veterans at VA facilities, the article said some face shields produced by HERL have been donated to the University of Pittsburgh, HERL’s academic affiliate.

HERL Director Rory Cooper, Ph.D., said about 30 percent of HERL’s engineering work hours have been redirected to design and develop products related to the pandemic.

Even the families of HERL staff are helping out: The story reported that parents and grandparents are sewing cloth face masks.

Read the entire story from the VA Office of Research & Development.


About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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