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Researchers develop pressure sensors for amputees

15th April 2014

A report in 2000 by the Audit Commission said that a quarter of the 50,000 lower limb amputees in the UK did not use their prosthetic limbs as much as they would like due to pain and discomfort.


AmputeeThe research was carried out at the University of Southampton and backed by the Medical Research Council; it found that sensors could also be used for others at risk, such as wheelchair-users and those confined to bed.



How does the sensor work?

The sensor is very thin and is taped to a cushioned layer between the stump and the artificial limb. It sends information of movement to researchers and clinicians who can interpret whether they need make adjustments to avoid further discomfort. There is also potential for it to be connected to technology to allow the user to be notified via their smartphone.

Dr Liudi Jiang from the University of Southampton, who is leading the project, said: 

"A large number of lower limb amputees may suffer from nerve damage and they have reduced skin sensation. That means they don't feel the pain or the tissue injury as effectively as we do. And it may be too late, because once that soft tissue is compromised it could lead to infection and could be really serious."

This technology could be available to NHS patients within three years.

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