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The NewSit Seat (Courtesy of Newsit.org)

Confronting a dangerous phenomenon that afflicts thousands of people around the world each year, two physicians from Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center have recently released a study showing that a new prototype for an airline chair would likely dramatically decrease the occurrence of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). DVT is a condition which can result in emboli that can travel to the lungs, a situation which is often fatal. Extended periods of inactivity, such as remaining seated on a long flight, are known to be a leading cause of the condition.

According to Shaare Zedek vascular surgeon Dr. Zvi Abramowitz, who carried out the study along with Professor David Gertz of the Hebrew University School of Medicine, the new chair was shown to “allow people largely immobile on flights to keep the blood flowing out of their calves and in so doing dramatically reduce the chances of developing a blood clot.”The study, which began in 2005 and was recently published in the Annals of Vascular Surgery, involved 25 volunteers who were asked to remain seated for two separate periods of 5 hours, the first in a traditional airplane seat and the second in the NewSit prototype.

Using a technique called air plethysmography, the researchers were able to measure the changes of the venous volume in the calf from the beginning of the period seated to the end. Results showed that in a regular airplane chair there was an average increase of greater than 26 percent in volume in the volunteers’ calves.The NewSit chair showed just over a 3 percent increase in volume.Describing these results Dr. Abramowitz said, the “this major improvement of venous emptying during long flights will almost certainly decrease remarkably the incidence of clots.”

Previous research has proven that a significant number of travelers following long airline flights exhibit markers in their blood displaying the beginning of clotting.Additional research will be performed to prove that the NewSit also decreases these markers.With this is hand, Dr. Abramowitz says that the availability of such an option that can prevent or reduce a passenger’s chance of DVT, “will make it critical that airlines consider modifying their seats.”

The NewSit, which was designed by Israeli-American entrepreneur Arnold Jonas, lifts up the front portion of the seat raising the feet from the floor thus allowing the passenger to swing his or her feet forwards and backwards and compress their calves against the seat’s cushion.While the current model requires the passenger manually move their legs, options exist for an automated version which will ensure that the movement continues even while sleeping.

Dr. Abramowitz says that while all long-flight passengers can be at risk for developing clots, it has been found that those in the non-aisle seats face a greater risk because they are even less mobile than those who can easily stand up and walk around.“It has long been known that decreased mobility on flights represents a major health problem, now with the NewSit the airlines will be positioned to actively work to reduce the chances of clots and fatal emboli.”

For more information, please contact Jeremy Wimpfheimer, Department of Public Relations, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, 972-2-666-6234, jeremy@szmc.org.il