LATCH, which stands for Laser Actuated Transcranial Hemostasis, is a hand-held device that fires a laser through the skull to coagulate blood and stop bleeds caused by head trauma. Though it’s still being tested, LATCH has the potential to revolutionize the way traumatic brain injuries are treated for soldiers in the field.

The development of LATCH was a long, frustrating process that would have stopped most expert teams in their tracks. Luckily, our team were not hyper-focused experts in this field and didn’t let words like “impossible” deter them.

Driven by a desire to experiment and learn, the LATCH team began conducting experiments on butchered pigs from the nearby Honolulu Chinatown…experiments that sometimes left our lab smelling like pork barbecue. Through this process—at the intersection of experimentation and perseverance—they stumbled upon the realization that coagulating the blood in a traumatic brain injury was far more important than cauterizing the wound, and they could do so without causing external injury

The implications of LATCH are enormous. Current point-of-injury treatment options for intracranial hemorrhaging are limited, and traumatic brain injury-related death or permanent injury can occur within minutes of suffering an injury. Additionally, internal hemorrhaging can generally only be treated with surgery—creating a new injury to treat the existing injury.

LATCH is minimally invasive and non-destructive to background tissue. It stops intracranial bleeding at the point of injury before the hemorrhage results in severe brain injury.

A breakthrough of this magnitude is something that you would expect out of hubs like Silicon Valley or Boston, where technically trained experts abound. But the truth is that this was made possible because our team was free from the influence of the “conventional wisdom” of groupthink. Where other experts might have given up—or may have even convinced us to give up had we been within the same thought culture—our team here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean found a way.

Read more about LATCH and how our unique environment encouraged its creation in Chapter 8 of Intellectual Anarchy, available soon.