Watch: Rice U Students Hope To Take Sting Out of Needlesticks

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The students said they advantage of their design is a quick mechanism of action.
The students said they advantage of their design is a quick mechanism of action.

If a group of freshman engineering students from Rice University have it their way, children will hopefully be feeling less pain when they get a vaccine.

The trio of freshmen, who call themselves 'Comfortably Numb' has created a device to ease the pain of an injection. Their device numbs the skin prior to a shot by producing a rapid chemical reaction to cool the patient's skin.

The team, made up of computer science major Greg Allison, bioengineering major Andy Zhang, and mechanical engineering major Mike Hua, currently has a functioning prototype that has shown to produce a measurable numbing effect in 60 seconds, which in turn reduces the pain from an injection.

“Our (lab) device is 3-D-printed and consists of two sealed chambers containing the chemical ammonium nitrate and water,” Hua said in a press release. “A simple twisting motion moves the chambers into alignment to allow the chemicals to flow through the chamber to produce a rapid endothermic reaction. We then numb the skin by contacting the device's metal surface to the patient's skin.”

The team said that current solutions are either ineffective, because they do not numb well enough, or they take too long. 

The team designed the device to be single-use rather than reusable because cleaning it for each use and then resetting the device would be cumbersome for a nurse. Injections are such a common procedure that it is much easier to have a single-use device.

The team noted the materials they used were "relatively inexpensive and found in abundance: plastic, rubber and metal.” The team is currently in the process of applying for a provisional patent for the device.

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