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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ulcers: Smart Technology

ZephyrTM is a company based in New Zealand and specialise in wearable technology and biofeedback. They are currently developing in conjunction with Auckland University of Technology (AUT) high tech insoles using real time sensors to measure temperatures on the soles of the feet. The insole is called the ZephyrTM ShoePodTM (the name is enough to put you off!) and contains sensors which measure ground reaction force (GRF). The thin insole also has a wireless data transmitter and recorder. Bluetooth-type protocols allows communication of critical information to a mobile or other such device and the wearer is given a audible and/ or visible feedback. Softwear enables real time data presentation on performance trends in posture, technique and fatigue. This information can be stored for later use. Now the company have mounted temperature sensors on a flexible Printed Circuit Board (PCB), in an ambitious attempt to include temperature feedback. In the final design the company intends to have printed temperature sensors built into the insole. This would potentially provide an important monitoring function in ulcer prevention in the diabetic population. Minute skin temperatures arise just prior to skin breakdown as the area goes cold with local ischemia. These miniscule temperature changes go unnoticed in the normal course of events and clinicians are almost always presented with an indolent ulceration. Currently the ZephyrTM ShoePodTM is undergoing clinical trials in the US. Electrical Stimulation Therapy has proven to deliver excellent results amongst the increasing number of Advanced Wound Care therapies including negative pressure wound therapy, low level laser therapy, oxygen therapy, ultra-sound and nanotechnology. Now BIOFiSICA have produced smart skin patches which restore electrical signals (voltage patterns) to the wound area to very good effect. Smart skin patches like the POSiFECT® monitor now contains a low voltage battery supply and controlled micro-current delivery system. When this is attached to the wound dressing a customised bio-current emanates through a coupling medium of biocompatible hydrogel. The system continuously and automatically adjusts the micro-current to levels clinically shown to initiate the wound healing process. Each dressing has enough battery life for 48 hours.

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