Improving clinical care for people with wounds

Successful meeting of the Welsh Wound Network

Written by Ian Dillon June 29th 2010

The Welsh Wound Network met for the third time in 2010 on June 109th in Aberystwyth.  Thirty delegates enjoyed a wide range of brief presentations from commercial organisations and from MediWales.  During the event Synidor launched a new patient mobility assessment alarm.  This product launch was followed later by a press day held in Swansea leading to the product being discussed in the local newspapers on on BBC radio.  The product launch was supported by the Welsh Assembly Government and the press release is reproduced below.

Smart Mattress Cover Designed To Prevent Bed Sores

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An ‘intelligent’ mattress cover that prevents patients developing pressure ulcers or bed sores - which currently costs the NHS more than £1billion a year - is to be launched in Wales this week.

Bed sores occur on areas of the skin that are under pressure when a person has difficulty moving, is bedridden, unconscious, unable to sense pain or immobile.

The best way to prevent them is to move around or change position thereby reducing or relieving the pressure on vulnerable areas of the body.

The Synidor system, developed by entrepreneur Frank Edwards with assistance from a number of Welsh Universities and support from the Welsh Assembly Government, detects lack of movement in patients and alerts nursing staff.

It consists of a disposable mattress cover with a unique sensor linked to a visual and audio alarm unit that alerts medical staff if a patient is not moving regularly.

The alarm can also be pre-set and programmed to remind patients to move at regular intervals or if they are not able to move, the carer can intervene.

The system, which was initially trialled by the Sunderland NHS Trust, has been in development for several years and had support from the Assembly Government from the early feasibility stages via the Wales Innovators Network through to manufacturing. 

Frank has worked closely with Michael Clark, Manager of the Welsh Wound Network and an expert in this field and accessed the expertise at PDR (the National Centre for Product Design and Development Research) to develop the casing for the alarm unit and the University of Glamorgan for assistance in designing the electronic circuit board.

Lesley Griffiths, Deputy Minister for Science, Innovation and Skills, described it as an excellent example of how business could benefit from collaboration with university research centres.

“I am delighted the Welsh Assembly Government has been able to support the development of this highly innovative system and pleased to see how the expertise within our universities is being used by businesses to help develop products with great commercial potential. This type of collaboration also helps speed up the process to get those products out into the market.”

Mr Edwards said his company is based at the Institute of Life Science at Swansea University where he will be able to access world class facilities and expertise to develop the next generation of applications, including a system for chairs and wheelchairs.

Dr Clark said that the network of support offered through the Welsh Wound Network, which is funded by the Assembly Government, has been critical in bringing the product to market.

He said that 4% of NHS expenditure is spent on treating pressure ulcers and that up to 20% of patients in hospitals suffer from them.

“Prolonged immobility is the major underlying cause of pressure ulcers and anything that helps to alert carers when they need to move patients has great potential as an innovation and great benefit from a healthcare perspective. 

“There is clearly a global market as every healthcare system in the world faces the same problems. It is a very big but often overlooked condition.”