How are you? Today is my first ever Guest Blog post. Thank you to the team at IMPRESS (Incontinence Management and PRevention through Engineering and ScienceS) for all your hard work and dedication with #Incontinence research, and I look forward to collaborating with you more in the future. Here is what they’re all about and where you can find out more information.
Take care everyone,
IMPRESS (Incontinence Management and PRevention through Engineering and ScienceS) is a UK research project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR). We are based in the School of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leeds and co-ordinate IMPRESS in collaboration with the Applied Biomedical Engineering Group at University College London.
Our aim is to bring about a radical change in the research and development activities in incontinence technologies.
Why are we doing this?
Firstly because incontinence impacts significantly on quality of life for thousands of patients and it places a massive burden on the UK National Health Service (NHS). Secondly because where many areas of medical engineering share a growth in the engagement of research engineers and scientists to push forward the exploitation of emerging technologies, incontinence receives little attention within this sector and consequently current technological interventions remain limited in their function and effectiveness.
How are we doing this?
Since IMPRESS began in 2014 we have been facilitating the education of 20 Incontinence Technology Advocates, researchers chosen from the engineering and science community, about the current clinical challenges faced in treating and managing incontinence. We are using their knowledge and interactions to create a Self-Sustaining Network of patients, healthcare providers and engineering and science experts that will stimulate collaborations towards novel technological solutions for incontinence. To feed these new collaborations we have funded a first round of five pilot projects whose concepts encompass both urinary and faecal incontinence and may ultimately lead to a next generation of treatments and management products for this condition.
Where are we going next?
IMPRESS recently received further funding to continue its work until 2018 with a substantial budget to support more pilot projects, to develop selected projects into early-stage research work and to fund an IMPRESS Research fellow.
Results from our FI Workshop
In February 2016 IMPRESS ran a faecal incontinence workshop which focussed on ‘Technologies for Incontinence: What can we do better?’ Our delegates were a mixed audience of healthcare professionals, academics, patients, carers and industry representatives and we asked them to bring their personal experience and expertise to discuss this topic to help identify areas where we should focus future research. Four basic themes emerged.
PEOPLE who could benefit from new technology
Children, young adults and those with physical impairments are not well catered for. Many products don’t consider the complexities of designing for children and there are few options for those with limited dexterity or spinal cord injuries.
TECHNOLOGY how it influences people’s quality of life
It has the ability to empower, to address stigma and taboo with discreet solutions, and it has the potential to make assessment, treatment and management methods less invasive.
PRODUCTS where technology could be improved
Many products have seen little innovation for decades and issues such as skin irritation, smells and leaks are still a significant factor for patients.
POTENTIAL area for new technologies
It’s clear that much could be done to incrementally improve existing products through improvement in materials, applying smart systems that could sense, monitor and feedback, and by developing data collection tools that can assist patients and inform healthcare professionals.