Innovation That Matters

The scalp and hair are unharmed by the temporary restriction in blood flow and Luminate claims the device is not only safe but is also comfortable. | Photo source Luminate, Wild Island Pictures

Device prevents chemotherapy hair loss

Health & Wellbeing

A wearable compression “cap” could allow chemotherapy patients to retain most of their hair during treatment

Spotted: For many cancer patients, one of the most traumatic aspects of chemotherapy is hair loss. While not physically debilitating, hair loss can have a profound effect on patients’ mental state, and is an often-unwanted announcement of their condition. This is why Luminate Medical decided to focus on preventing damage to hair follicles during chemotherapy.

Within this treatment, cancer-inhibiting drugs are given intravenously, travelling throughout the body, including to the hair follicles. This is why patients experience nausea, weakness and eventual hair loss. Luminate has developed a compression garment for the head, which temporarily restricts blood flow to the hair follicles and prevents the drugs from reaching them. 

The device resembles a soft helmet, which is worn during chemotherapy sessions and uses gentle pressure to restrict blood flow only to the skin of the scalp, allowing the drugs to reach everywhere else. The scalp and hair are unharmed by the temporary restriction in blood flow and Luminate claims the device is not only safe but is also comfortable. 

Initial tests have been carried out on animals and healthy humans, and have shown high rates of hair retention with no adverse effects. According to Luminate CEO Aaron Hannon, the device works on most hair types and lengths. “We’re really excited about the efficacy of this therapy because it works with lots of hair types,” said Hannon. “That’s a real consideration, since a tech that only worked with short hair, straight hair or some other subset of hairstyles would exclude far too many people.” 

From refusing Covid vaccines for fear of a days’ discomfort to rejecting chemo for concern over hair loss, fear of side effects from medical treatment is an enduring problem. This is why we are seeing more medical innovations that seek to improve not only outcomes but also the patient’s quality of life. Recent examples of this trend include a mobile game that helps pediatric patients manage their stress and a lightweight mesh sleeve that replaces clunky plaster casts. 

Written By: Lisa Magloff

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