The CoreControl is a device designed at Stanford, which can supposedly improve athletic recovery by cooling down the body’s core temperature. They postulate that muscles become fatigued when their temperature is too high.
The device cools the body core temperature by cooling the hands while a mild vacuum is applied, to prevent the blood vessels in the hands from constricting due to the cold.
I tried to replicate this device by designing and 3D printing my own parts.
- vacuum chamber and ice water compartment 3D printed with PLA, waterproofed/airtight by sealing with XTC-3D epoxy resin
- section of copper pipe to transfer heat from the hand to grip
- 3D printed endcaps/hose barbs to connect plastic tubing for water circuit.
- cable glands to pass plastic tubing into the airtight vacuum chamber
- aquarium water pump and vacuum motor
- Arduino clone microcontroller (Nano DCCduino)
- vacuum sensor in the chamber for closed-loop control of the vacuum pump.
- temperature sensor embedded inside the pipe, intended for closed-loop control of the pump to make it cold (50 F) but not too cold, which causes vasoconstriction in the hand and loss of heat transfer. pressure sensor, and aquarium pump.
- Making 3D-printed parts that fit together on a hobby-class 3D printer is frustrating, largely trial-and-error, due to poor tolerances.
- Leak-proofing the system was difficult. In particular, the interface with the hand often leaked. I originally wanted a hands-free operation, but currently it works best with the free hand holding a seal on the wrist of the hand being cooled.
- The temperature noticeably varied between “very cold” and “too warm”. In hindsight, putting the temperature sensor inside the water flow of the pipe was unnecessary and possibly even less accurate than measuring the surface temperature of the pipe. The sensor also had a large lag time. If I continued this project I would use a faster-reacting strip thermometer mounted on the outer copper tube.
- When I tested the device, I didn’t have a way to accurately measure my own core temperature. An off-the-shelf ear thermometer proved too inaccurate to see a difference.
I also found someone else’s attempt at this project to be a useful reference.