Vacuum Helmet to Contain Pathogen-Bearing Droplets in Dental, Otolaryngological and Ophthlamologic Outpatient Interventions.

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Clinic encounters of dentists, otolaryngologists and ophthalmologists inherently exposes these specialists to enhanced risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, thus threatening them, their patients and their practices. Here we propose to computationally model and experimentally test a novel aerosol elimination helmet device that would act as an additional primary barrier to infection, while maintaining open access to the patient’s face. Our device would eliminate the need for negative-pressure aeration in clinic rooms, an often economically and structurally impractical option. We will evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed device by simulating dynamics of ejected droplets during a violent expiratory event. The results of these predictive simulations will be employed to optimize and tailor our design based on the patient’s condition or the specific intended use of the device, before experimentally testing several prototypes of the envisioned vacuum helmet in healthy volunteers performing cough and sneeze. Our preliminary results indicate the effectiveness of the proposed design in eliminating over 98% of pathogen-bearing aerosols and droplets generated during most extreme expiratory events. 

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