Three Rice University freshmen are working on a simple device that could make injections less painful. They call their device Comfortably Numb – a small ice pack that quickly cools down the spot to be injected.
Greg Allison, Andy Zhang and Mike Hua are currently extracting ammonium nitrate from ice packs for their prototype. They developed a cylinder that keeps the powdered compound and a bit of water in separate containers. Give the lid a twist and the two compounds mix and have an endothermic reaction. The bottom of the cylinder is applied to the skin, absorbing the heat on that spot and numbing it within 30 to 60 seconds. Aside from making injections less painful, the team also believes their device could be used in tattooing and body piercing and to reduce swelling.
So why not just use currently available ice packs or even simpler, a chunk of ice? The group want to keep the numbing device’s size and price to a minimum. They hope to eventually make the device small enough to fit into a syringe needle’s cap.
While the jet-powered injector we saw a few years ago seems more effective and works much quicker than Comfortably Numb, it’s still a promising start from a group of freshmen. Perhaps they’ll be able to improve their project drastically over the years. Or they’ll discover booze and think that that’s a better solution.