Artificial Muscles and Soft Robotic Devices for Treatment of End-Stage Heart Failure

Publication Name

Advanced Materials


Medical soft robotics constitutes a rapidly developing field in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, with a promising future for millions of patients suffering from heart failure worldwide. Herein, the present state and future direction of artificial muscle-based soft robotic biomedical devices in supporting the inotropic function of the heart are reviewed, focusing on the emerging electrothermally artificial heart muscles (AHMs). Artificial muscle powered soft robotic devices can mimic the action of complex biological systems such as heart compression and twisting. These artificial muscles possess the ability to undergo complex deformations, aiding cardiac function while maintaining a limited weight and use of space. Two very promising candidates for artificial muscles are electrothermally actuated AHMs and biohybrid actuators using living cells or tissue embedded with artificial structures. Electrothermally actuated AHMs have demonstrated superior force generation while creating the prospect for fully soft robotic actuated ventricular assist devices. This review will critically analyze the limitations of currently available devices and discuss opportunities and directions for future research. Last, the properties of the cardiac muscle are reviewed and compared with those of different materials suitable for mechanical cardiac compression.

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