The leading cause of maternal mortality (deaths from pregnancy and childbirth related complications) is obstetric hemorrhage in which a woman bleeds heavily, most often immediately after giving birth. A woman somewhere in the world dies every 4 minutes from this kind of complication. The Non-pneumatic Anti-shock Garment (NASG) is a first-aid device used to stabilize women who are suffering from obstetric hemorrhage and shock. It is made of neoprene and VelcroTM and looks like the lower half of a wetsuit, cut into segments. This simple device helps women survive delays in getting to a hospital and getting the treatment that they need. It can be applied by anyone after a short, simple training. To date, it has been used on over 10,000 women in 33 countries.
History of the NASG1900s – An inflatable pressure suit was developed by Dr.George Crile. It was used to maintain blood pressure during surgery.1940s – After undergoing numerous modifications, the suit was refined for use as an anti-gravity suit (G-suit).1970s – The G-suit was modified into a half-suit which became known as MAST (Military Anti-Shock Trousers) or PASG (Pneumatic Anti-Shock Garment). The MAST was used in the Vietnam War for resuscitating and stabilizing soldiers with traumatic injuries before and during transportation.1980s – The PASG garment became used more and more by emergency rescue services (EMTs) to stabilize patients with a variety of lower body injuries, including the control of pelvic and abdominal hemorrhage.1990s – A team of scientists at NASA/AMES worked to improve on the PASG by developing a non-pneumatic (non-inflatable) version of the anti-shock garment. In the early 1990s they developed a device which is known generically as the Non-pneumatic Anti-Shock Garment or NASG.
2000s – In 2002 Dr. Paul Hensleigh, Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Stanford University Medical School published a short case series of 6 women treated with the NASG at a tertiary care hospital in Pakistan.
Dr. Suellen Miller read this article in 2003 and contacted Dr. Hensleigh to discuss global opportunities for the NASG. She was surprised to find that no-one had thought to use the NASG at the community and primary health care levels to stabilize and transport women with obstetric hemorrhage. Drs. Miller and Hensleigh joined forces to make a real impact and decrease maternal death from obstetric hemorrhage.
How does it work?
The NASG is a simple, neoprene and Velcro first-aid device that looks like the bottom half of a wetsuit, cut into segments. It is used to treat shock, resuscitate, stabilize and prevent further bleeding in women with obstetric hemorrhage.
Read more about the NASG in a Wikipedia article: The Non-Pneumatic Anti-Shock Garment
Who can use it?
After a simple training session, anyone can put the garment on a bleeding woman. Once her bleeding is controlled, she can be safely transported to a referral hospital for emergency obstetrical care. The NASG is light, flexible and comfortable for the wearer. It does not need to be removed for uterine massage, examinations or vaginal procedures, with the abdominal part only being opened for abdominal surgery. Upon application a patient’s vital signs are often quickly restored and consciousness regained.
If you are interested in learning more about the medical and technical aspects of the NASG, go to our Scientific Publications page.
Where is it being used?