Smart clothing to combat pressure ulcers

Ursula Wolf testing the first prototypes of her innovation in the laboratory.
Special light-conducting fibres are required to measure the oxygen content in the tissue. Ursula Wolf testing the first prototypes in the laboratory.

If pressure prevents the skin or underlying tissue from receiving sufficient oxygen, pressure ulcers can form. This primarily affects people with restricted mobility. “The only way to prevent pressure sores is to get the patient to move, restoring tissue perfusion,” says Prof. Ursula Wolf, Director of the Institute of Complementary and Integrative Medicine at the University of Bern.

Supported by the BRIDGE “Discovery” funding opportunity, Wolf is working on the development of a textile sensor system that raises the alarm in the event of danger. Sensors woven into clothing will continuously measure the oxygen content of the tissue using infrared light. This requires a special light-conducting fabric fibre developed by Empa. The University of Applied Sciences Buchs NTB is providing the electronics which convert the measurements into readable data.

The project’s main aim is to develop a final prototype. In collaboration with a clothing manufacturer, the fabric will then be further developed and incorporated into clothing. Wolf believes the technology could also be used in both the sportswear and healthcare sectors: “The textile sensors are a major step towards smart clothing.”

Last modification 14.05.2020

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