Earl Wood

Male, Deceased Person

1913 – 2009


Who was Earl Wood?

Earl H. Wood was a physiologist who helped invent the G-suit.

Shortly after receiving an M.D. and PhD in physiology from the University of Minnesota medical school, Wood became a key member of a team at the Mayo Clinic that was tasked with helping military pilots and flight crew survive and function in high G-force environments. The solution the team arrived at is the G-suit, which has air bladders situated at the calves, thighs, and abdomen of the wearer. The bladders inflate as the G-force acting on the aircraft increase, constricting the wearer's arteries, hence increasing blood pressure and blood flow to the brain.

The G-suit was a superior solution to another alternative—a water-filled suit—being tested at the time, which was considered impractically heavy and cumbersome.

Wood himself regularly tested the flight suits, taking many turns in a centrifuge used for the purpose. He calculated that over his several hundred rides, he had lost consciousness for an aggregate of at least fifteen minutes.

The G-suit was adopted in the 1940s. The current models are based on the pattern Wood and his colleagues designed.

After his work on the G-Suit, Wood worked on techniques for measuring cardiac blood flow. He was granted a patent for an optical instrument that measures blood oxygen levels without taking blood.

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Mar 18, 2009

on July 23, 2013


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