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The University of Southampton
Medical Devices and Vulnerable Skin Network

University of Edinburgh Project


Conformable and wireless-interrogated pressure sensors for medical compression garments

Medical compression garments and bandages are essential prophylactic devices used for the prevention and therapeutic treatment of conditions including deep vein thrombosis, ulcers, varicose veins, burns/hypertrophic scars, oedema and lymphatic diseases. Anti-embolism stockings (AES) are used extensively worldwide to prevent deep vein thrombosis, which can lead to venous thrombo-embolism - the biggest cause of hospital deaths in UK & USA. Compression garments are also available over-the-counter for injury recovery/rehabilitation, and for general blood circulatory improvement (e.g. flight socks). They are also increasingly being adopted in professional and amateur sports for alleged fatigue reduction and performance enhancement.

There is no viable and affordable solution for the accurate mapping of pressure profiles exerted by compresstion garments that is suitable for use at the patient bed-side or in the research laboratory.

We present a flexible and wireless pressure sensor, made using newly-developed flexible electronics microfabrication techniques, and compatible with large-scale manufacture. These thin, passive and wire-free devices have unprecedented flexibility, and conform to the body when taped to the patient’s skin, without disturbing the compression garment that is placed over them. A hand-held antenna is brought close to the patient’s limb over the top of the garment, and wirelessly powers and interrogates the sensors beneath, rapidly providing a detailed profile map of the pressures exerted upon them.

Pilot data show our sensors exhibit clinically-relevant sensitivities and limits of detection of pressure within seconds. With support from our clinical and industry collaborators, this proposal requests funds to optimise methods of wireless sensor interrogation, and to design and build a portable prototype reader system for these new sensors. The resulting prototype will showcase the technology to future investors, and will enable follow-on programmes of research, development and clinical trials.

The system has the potential to be developed and commercialised as a treatment monitoring tool for the patient bed-side. However, it can also be developed as a tool to facilitate essential medical and sports science research in the efficacy of compression garments and/or as a fitting guide and performance monitor for athletes.

The current reader system consists of a single simple antenna
The current reader system consists of a single simple antenna
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