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The University of Southampton

Research project: Sensing Skin Health

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This research aims to investigate a system of skin health monitoring that is suitable for long term use by patients at risk of undetected skin damage. In particular this research will focus on problems associated with diabetic foot ulceration.

A sensing platform for foot tissue

"Every 30 seconds a lower limb is lost somewhere in the world as a consequence of diabetes" Boulton et al 2005 (Lancet).

Around 100 leg amputations are performed each week in the UK, 80% will be on people with diabetes. However, 85% of these amputations could be avoided if remedial action was taken before excessive tissue damage had occurred. Amputation of the lower limb is largely due to problems of skin failure caused by excessive stress and/or poor monitoring of the skin health. Of course, it is difficult for a person to examine the soles of their feet and determine when extra help is needed. This is compounded when they experience neuropathy preventing the sensation of pain and vascular disease slows or prevents the healing process.

An ulcerated foot

As no single parameter, such as temperature or pressure, can predict tissue breakdown, this research aims to investigate a multi-sensor system of skin health monitoring that is suitable for long-term use by patients most at risk of tissue breakdown and ulceration. It focuses on techniques to directly identify the state of tissue health rather than the forces, e.g. temperature and pressures that the tissues in the foot experience. This project is developing sensor arrays covering bio-impedance, skin temperature, humidity, oxygenation and blood flow and their location on the foot. By careful analysis of the sensed data we hope to be able to implement a traffic light indicator of skin health to alert the user at times when they are at most risk.

Associated research themes

Bioengineering and human factors

Related research groups

Bioengineering Science
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