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Burning Passion: The Story Of A Russian Bed.

The leading edge of technology without price gouging is alive and well in Russia.

Medicine throughout the world is largely united science, after all the human body except for cosmetic differences is the same everywhere with similar health challenges. One area of medicine not often discussed, and understandably so because it raises such frightening and horrifically painful images. Burns medicine, or combustiology is that field. Incidents largely are due to tragic accidents, terror or armed conflict.

Taking this topic a step further, the need for anti-burn recovery beds is far higher than their availability across the world, this is clearly apparent when analyzing their yearly sales. Acute shortages of such beds is constant, be it in America, the EU, China, Russia or any point on the planet.

One of the reasons for the perennial shortage of burns treatment and recovery beds is price, and length of time from order to delivery, and the sudden unplanned for need. In wealthier regions patients are shipped off to facilities that specialize in such treatment and care, but such places are rare, costly, and in most parts of the world simply do not exist. To justify having one or several burns beds costing from $85,000 to $200,000+ each, together with highly trained personnel is a luxury few institutions can afford to budget.

One high-technology practical solution was conceived, developed, researched, engineered, patented and manufactured in the city of Yekaterinburg, Russia by a small Russian company called Ritm.

The scientists and engineers at Ritm developed a burns recovery bed for under $40,000 that may objectively be clinically superior to the three or four firms competing in the world at more than twice the price. The company started 25 years ago (1992) when financing of the Russian defense industry ended, economic collapse was everywhere, salaries unpaid, and once secure companies were telling people at every level of education and expertise to look elsewhere for work if they and their families expected to eat.

The idea to start the company was sparked by a tragic accident, the explosion of a major gas pipeline in Asha (Russia’s Bashkiria region) which ran next to the railroad track while a passenger train was passing alongside. Many people died, of the survivors most were quite severely burned. In an effort to save the injured several special anti-burn beds produced by the Anglo-French company Clinitron were ordered. At that time such beds cost $75,000 each, plus the time needed to pay and ship from abroad. It was a good effort by all, but too little and far too late. Across the planet similar situations are often repeated when trying to handle such mass tragedies which are simply hard to predict, budget and plan for.

The out of work Russian defense scientists and engineers saw this incident as their call to design and manufacture a made in Russia anti-burns bed. The rest is history. They started from scratch, researched what was considered state-of-the-art at that time, adding new technologies to improve concept delivery.

One of the key challenges was how to impart a type of “weightlessness” for the patient while new skin regrew, and not to traumatize the burned surfaces through contact or pressure. They did this. Their technology and Russian burns bed today have an excellent track record for saving people who have had even 80% of their body burned.

What makes the Russian burns recovery bed unique? The bed itself is filled with glass hydrophobic microbeads. They are specially produced to a specific design allowing them to actively aerate efficiently, as their particle size is from 50 to 160 microns.

The hydrophobic coating of these “microbeads” do not allow them to absorb liquids or moisture. The microbeads consist of sodium-calcium glass, which, when it interacts with water and other body fluids, creates an alkaline medium where bacteria cannot survive.

The principle of operation is that this loose microbeads material, initially solid, is capable of "bubbling" due to channeled airflow creating what can only be described as a state of "dry liquid". This gives the patient the feeling of weightlessness which some have compared to floating in the Dead Sea yet remaining dry. The patient's body is under minimal pressures where it doesn’t feel like it is being supported on any skin surface. All elements in contact with the patient are absolutely permeable to air and wound discharge, while at the same time possessing both a dehumidifying and a disinfecting effect.

This High-tech engineering is based on the application of innovative technologies and materials to create a favorable microclimate around damaged tissues to accelerate regeneration, and greatly reduce pain. As a result, patient recovery is measurably and dramatically speeded up.

The company controls the quality-intensive production and manufacturing processes from the preparation and testing of their microspheres, to building and assembling the beds and their electronic control systems in-house.

A number of directions have evolved from their initial recovery bed and the “weightless” aspect of therapy. There is now an entire range of micro-particle dry fluidizing beds, differing not only in size, but also in functionality. There is a bed for the early rehabilitation of premature infants during the first year of life, another rehabilitating children with infantile cerebral palsy and other CNS disorders. The initial burns-bed is now available in several versions as well: from child to adult sizes with several options like body-lift and scales.

The company proudly declares on its homepage : "All products, accessories and spare parts shown are of Russian origin. We are the only, fully-fledged developer and manufacturer of our own equipment and do not involve ourselves with assembling and/or reselling foreign-made goods''.

In speaking with several medical people around the world on this subject, the common view was that this technology is a boon for the whole world, and should be presented and read in the several key languages the world uses. Being “Made in Russia” is a good spirited start, and while it fills a local need, there is a whole world out there which should be able to log on, read, understand and be able to get such little-known life-saving Russian medical tech at such realistically affordable prices.

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